Thursday, April 23, 2009

What Are Teachers?

I got to thinking this morning. A dangerous pastime, as Lefou would note. But it is something I tend to do on the lonely drive to work every morning. And while usually there is a cacophony of thoughts rumbling around upstairs, all of which are easily shifted or re-directed by whatever meaningless noise on the radio, I chose silence instead this morning, with this singular focus as, I suppose, a side effect. I'm going to have to come back to this topic later, because I haven't fully thought through it yet, but the thing I'm beating around the bush about is that of teachers as professionals.

Are teachers professionals? The reflex response is of course they are. Teachers are credentialed, highly educated, operate according to certain ethics and guidelines, and are accountable to professional organizations like the College of Teachers, or the State Certification Board. They dress professionally, and uphold high standards of deportment. Teachers are thrust into situations with limited resources, a finite amount of time, and seemingly impossible goals that need to be met. They wade into these situations with tact and aplomb, and in general make lemonade out of what used to be something far baser.

I could list a thousand paeans, odes, and meditations on, by, about, and for teachers and their professionalism, yet the question still begs - are teachers professionals?

I have known many professional teachers in my time, professional being the adjective describing the noun, and not the other way round - a teaching professional. I know for a fact that there are many teaching professionals all about, who can be hired at any time to conduct workshops and seminars on anything in this world and the next. But I don't see them as teachers, nor as professional teachers. And of the teachers I do know, many have professional qualities, professional attitudes, and professional attributes. But I wouldn't say they were professionals.

In fact, and I know some of you will not like this, and some of you will not like this a whole lot, but I truly think that teachers are not professionals. Not at all, not even a bit. And while I will explain why, I'm not going to do it today, so as to give my thoughts a little time to order themselves, so that when I follow this up tomorrow, what I write will what I mean, clearly, and concisely.

I promise you, however, that if you don't agree with me right now, I may just change your mind on the morrow.

1 comment:

  1. For sake of brevity, I'm reposting an anonymous comment with the links embedded, below. I wish the commenter had left a name, because doing so is what facilitates discussion. Also, because I don't like talking to shadows. Most importantly, because the links are illustrative not of my point or against it, but how this issue delves so easily into something besides the point.

    So, to Anonymous, whoever you are, what I'm getting at is not "professionalism," I was quite clear about that. I speak about teachers being "professionals." Any occupation, anywhere, will have its malefactors.


    Anonymous said...

    This speaks a lot to the question of professionalism in teaching....

    - Canadians for Accountability.
    - Religious Position.
    - Victim Comments.
    - Teacher Frustration
    - Email of Minister of Education.
    - CTV Report of Sex Offenders.