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Traveller Children

A Voice for Themselves
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Over the last twenty-five years there has been an unprecedented expansion of opportunity for Traveller and Gypsy children to attend school. Educational outreach services have developed in parallel with an increased willingness on the part of parents to put their children into school. Cathy Kiddle has studied the effects of this expansion on the lives of the children. Having worked with Travellers and schools for over twenty years, she is well placed to consider the interactions between children, parents and schools. She examines particularly the parent/teacher relationship and the effect this has on the education of the children.

The book looks at education in the context of several distinct travelling groups including Circus, Fairground and New Travellers. While recognising the importance of literacy for their children, many Gypsy Travellers fear that schooling will contribute to the disintegration of their culture, strongly based as it is on family education and supportive kinship networks. Teachers, on the other hand, may have stereotyped ideas of who Gypsies are, and may have their own expectations and demands of children in school. Cathy Kiddle examines the ways in which minority groups are forced to adapt to the changing society around them. She argues that education is important for Traveller children in that it enables them to develop into independent learners and, through this, independent people, able to speak for themselves, make considered choices and act as agents in their own lives. Essentially, her study is optimistic: if parents and teachers are prepared to understand and co-operate with each other, education will help to destroy the marginalisation of Traveller cultures, not the cultures themselves. The children will be able to give their communities a voice for themselves.
  • Published: Mar 01 1999
  • Pages: 176
  • 229 x 158mm
  • ISBN: 9781853026843
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Press Reviews

  • Seen & Heard

    This book is for everyone working with travelling people, not merely in education…whilst primarily focussing on education, is a fascinating insight into the issues facing travelling people, into institutional racism and the quest for assimilation…This book provides a useful overview of the development of travellor education and of the need to create responsive, culturally sensitive social inclusion policies.
  • Journal of Nomadic Studies

    I am convinced that Traveller Children: A Voice for Themselves is a landmark in the terrain that none of us can afford to miss...Its contribution to theoretical, methodological and empirical knowledge is considerable. Even more importantly it points to some possible lines of dialogue (one further dimension of its emphasis on voice) from which all of us can learn and benefit.
  • The Runnymede Bulletin

    Cathy Kiddle's book is a timely publication because it simultaneously examines why Traveller children underachieve whilst, more importantly, exploring ways to address the issue. Educational practitioners can use it as a handbook because it allows them to move beyond debate and discussion.
  • Youth and Policy

    This book is an excellent read for all students, practitioners and managers in teaching. It also offers valuable insight to community and youth workers and social workers. It should also be read by all local authority workers and managers who have responsibilities to provide services for the individuals, families and communities known as Gypsy or Traveller...Kathy Kiddle's book covers a wide range of practical and policy related concerns impacting of the rights of gypsies and other travellers. She contextualises her arguments within the European framework and focuses the reader through her commitment to Children's Rights supported by the UN convention on the Rights of the Child...The evidence for Cathy Kiddle's arguments are telling; She helps the reader through a complex and difficult arena by drawing on her critical reflections on over 20 years of practice as well as comparing and contrasting these reflections with direct voiced experiences from the Gypsy and and Traveller families she worked with and from her external support received from various key Gypsy and Traveller 'experts'. Her bibliography is full of additional source material for the pro active anti-racist and anti-oppressive practitioner.
  • The Journal of Family Health Care

    The author has over 20 years experience with and supporting children and parents from traveller families. She examines ways in which these minority groups are discriminated against and how they are forced to adapt to the changing society around them whilst struggling to preserve their rich heritage and culture. This book is child-centred and at its heart is a deep concern to enable care professionals to reach out and meet the needs of children facing particular disadvantage. It offers insight into engaging traveller families and tips on reflective practice to assist in understanding the complex relationships between schools, other agencies and families, as well as enabling the voice of the child to be heard.
  • Community Care

    Cathy Kiddle's aim in this book is to explore educational, cultural and political issues affecting how schools may assist traveller children to gain an independent voice. Drawing on the increasing literature and her own experience in traveller education, she explores family-based education, access to school, children's experiences in school of validation or racism, and conflicting cultural expectations impinging on their use of school education particularly at the secondary stage. Kiddle is concerned not to objectify or speak for travellers. A feature of the book's credibility is the scrutiny of her subjective experience and attitudes as a non-traveller and teacher, and those of her community, as part of the dynamic studied. I recommend this book both as a starting point for practitioners beginning to learn about travellers' situations, and for those endeavouring to review and strengthen their practice.
  • Child Right

    One of the purposes of this book is to give children a 'voice for themselves'. This is also, argues its author, who speaks with the authority of someone who has worked as a teacher in this field for 20 years, the purpose of education. It should enable children to develop into 'independent people, able to make considered choices, to stand up and speak for themselves and to act as agents in their own lives.' While some Gypsy Travellers fear that schooling will contribute to the disintegration of their culture, it is argued that education will not destroy the cultures themselves, but rather help to end their marginalisation.