Proving TV soaps change destinies

5th December 1997 at 00:00
It is not every day that you hear someone say that The TES has changed her + life. But Ruth Hawthorn swears it's true.Two years ago, she became the first + woman to win a TES Research Fellowship, giving her the chance to study for a + year at Lucy Cavendish, the Cambridge college for mature women students. She + now has a full-time job there. Next year, The TES will be funding another + fellowship and is inviting applications from suitably qualified women graduates+ wishing to research an education policy topic . Ruth's project was to + investigate how two groups of people - school leavers in their first jobs and + adults who change jobs mid-career - make these crucial choices. Her particular + interest was in exploring the role that television and radio play in the + process. Her conclusions, after a year spent interviewing broadcasters, careers+ advisers and others, make interesting reading. Most career choices, she found,+ are influenced (and often limited) by family expectations, or by the advice or+ example of an influential individual (often an aunt or a cousin). Teachers, + she discovered, were frequently a crucial influence. She believes that an + awareness of their potential careers guidance role should be built into + student teachers' training programmes. Television and radio were not, among the+ groups she interviewed, a prime influence on career choices. Usually, ideas + came from someone within the family or from a teacher. However, the media - in + particular TV soaps like The Bill and Casualty - shaped decisions once an idea + had germinated. The research points to the importance of using television role + models, members of our "virtual family", to try to influence career choices. + The relationship between TV and the family also suggests a more subtle form of + influence. One interviewee, a young laboratory technician, was influenced by + her father's liking for nature programmes. "He had found it relaxing, and she + associated the subject-area with moments of closeness with him." Before she was+ awarded the fellowship, Ruth had worked in educational publishing and taught + for two years in an Essex secondary school, prior to taking an eight-year break+ to bring up her two children. She returned to work in careers guidance in + Cambridgeshire, and until taking up The TES fellowship worked for the National + Institute for Careers Education and Counselling. The fellowship allowed her to + attend one of the country's most prestigious adult education colleges which has+ enabled many women whose careers have been interrupted to find new + opportunities. "I got an enormous amount out of it intellectually. You might + think that these days a college for women is an anachronism, but it's not at + all. It's an extremely interesting institution, and particularly fascinating + because it takes women from diverse communities and backgrounds from all over + the world." She was so happy that she didn't want to leave the college and her + ambition was fulfilled when, at the end of her year, she was offered a job as + part-time admissions officer. The rest of her time is spent as Harris Fellow in+ Education, doing research. "I'm incredibly grateful to The TES. It has really + changed my life," she says.

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number

Comments

The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now