Each year, approximately two thousand newly qualified primary teachers graduate from a range of initial teacher education programmes in the Republic of Ireland.
Part of a larger doctoral study, the presentation focuses on the shaping of beginning primary teachers’ figurative identities, arising from their interactions with the figured worlds of Irish primary schooling i.e. the historically, socially-constructed roles, meaning systems and symbols of the cultural contexts encountered by beginning teachers.
Employing a multiple-case study research design, individual, face-to-face semi-structured interviews, and the maintenance of solicited e-mail logs by nine research participants, are the principal methods of data collection employed.
In analysing the shaping of figurative identity i.e. how beginning primary teachers come to figure who they perceive themselves to be, through the worlds within which they participate, data analysis is informed by figured worlds theory (see Holland et al. 1998).
With implications for research, policy making and practice, findings relate to decisions to teach, teacher role models, the influence of pedagogic traditions, and coping with ‘visibility’.
As a result of applying the foci of an international literature to an aspect of Irish education, this figured worlds-inspired study is offered as a context-specific contribution to the knowledge base on beginning teaching.