Author: Pajot, David
This doctoral thesis in educational leadership focuses on the Breton language, on its revitalization and its transmission. Primarily spoken in Brittany, this Celtic language has faced a dramatic drop in the number of speakers after the 1950s, due to a rupture in intergenerational transmission. In a minority context, family transmission is an essential element of the preservation of a language. Currently, there is almost no transmission within families and today, Breton is mostly taught in schools such as the Diwan network in Brittany that offers an immersive educational program in Breton, an alternative to the traditional program of the French Ministry of Education taught in French. In addition to being an empirical analysis of Breton immersion and the challenges the Diwan schools face, this study examines the representations of the Breton language from the perspectives of students and their families, as well as leaders in education (teachers and principals) in Diwan secondary schools. It seeks to understand the role of these representations in the choice to enroll children in a Breton immersion program and their motivations to study in Breton and perhaps one day pass on this language. This qualitative research adopts a constructivist and interpretative epistemology, and is based on the findings of 22 individual and group interviews. While studying the social, historical, and cultural context in which this discourse takes place, the analysis of these interviews also allowed to make an inventory of the participants' representations about the Breton language, and to identify family politics and reasons to follow the Diwan program. The interviews granted further insight on the role of the Breton language as a marker of identity and cultural affiliation for students enrolled in Diwan. This study highlights the challenges faced by schools like Diwan with the French educational and legal system and how the participants of this study imagine the future of the Diwan network and the Breton language. It concludes with a reflection on the implications and responsibilities that rest on political and educational leadership in the face of the urgent matters of teaching, transmission and revitalization of the Breton language.
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Thesis advisor: Moore, Daniele
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