Home Economics and Textiles Studies in Malta: a curriculum history 1960-2010

  • Lorraine Portelli

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


The research examined the curriculum history of Home Economics and Textiles Studies in Malta. Although some studies on the history of Home Economics were carried out internationally, none had yet focused on the Maltese context which presents an interesting and unique case, the islands being a former British colony with a Catholic Mediterranean culture. This study, conducted from an insider perspective, focused on the development of the micro and macro level of the curriculum of both subjects over a span of fifty years, during which many changes occurred in the Maltese social, political and economic scene. These changes, in turn, had an impact on the local educational system, which was influenced by foreign models. The study adopted a social constructionist perspective towards the development of Home Economics and Textiles Studies, whereby it identified the influences that were most significant, and changes that took place over that particular span of time. The academic, utilitarian and pedagogical traditions were also analysed in relation to the change in status of the Home Economic and Textiles Studies curriculum. This multi-dimensional study included life-history narratives with key individuals who played an important role in the field, semi-structured interviews with various individuals who had a link with the learning or teaching of the subjects, focus group discussions with a group of young teachers, and archival research which shed further light on what led to the changes that occurred in the curriculum over time. The findings revealed that a number of factors led to the current status of the subjects. These included the relationship between patterns of status and resource allocation, the challenges posed by other subjects, the gendered nature of the subjects, the issues regarding name change, the development of the curriculum and role of examinations, and the career prospects of those involved in the learning and teaching of Home Economics and Textiles Studies. The research showed how and to what extent the socio-economic, political and cultural changes the Maltese islands experienced in the period under study affected both the curriculum and the subjects’ community. The study also revealed that the curricula of Home Economics and Textiles Studies developed and evolved according to these various influences, which in turn had a considerable effect on their status and significance, as the subjects have traditionally been considered marginal. The analysis highlighted the impact that various government policies had on the subjects and on the teachers’ lives and experiences, as well as the influence it had on their beliefs and ideals.
Date of AwardJun 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Brighton
SupervisorCarol Robinson (Supervisor)

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