Thursday, April 28, 2011

Experts in their field

According to the Australian council of professions, a profession is:

"A disciplined group of individuals who adhere to high ethical standards and uphold themselves to, and are accepted by, the public as possessing special knowledge and skills in a widely recognised, organised body of learning derived from education and training at a high level, and who are prepared to exercise this knowledge and these skills in the interest of others.

Inherent in this definition is the concept that the responsibility for the welfare, health and safety of the community shall take precedence over other considerations."

As a computer programmer, analyst and manager, I had a group of skills and worked ethically to provide a service.  There was both an effort and reward to what was being sought and achieved.  I was paid well for my knowledge and was accountable for any advice given.

As a teacher I bring my old skills and have a set of new skills, yet demand for this knowledge is limited to submission requests by national curriculum, moderation requirements by curriculum council and occasional tutoring programmes.

As teachers, the transition from seniority based government workers to teaching professionals is not being well managed.  Career progression is poorly defined and clearly needs additional work.  It's in nobody's interest to address this issue as it will make a large workforce considerably dearer to work with.

What no-one is considering is that the increasing requirements on teachers to perform to metrics is creating a specialised workforce that will increasingly require differentiation and alternate wage scales to retain key performing employees within the workforce.  When this starts to happen the knowledge of key employees will gain value, diminishing the willingness to share knowledge especially where a market advantage is gained by the organisation.

It reminds me that when WACOT release ethical standards for teachers (after they finish that wad of registrations that is their revenue source), we need to be certain to ascertain how limiting they are to ensure that the remuneration is consistent with expectations.

Specialisation and professionalism needs to be properly re-established at the teaching training level.  The image of a  teacher in a mortar board and gown, cane in hand, standing over students studiously working on chalkboards, feared by parents, admired for their knowledge is long gone.  Perhaps, with the rise of an 'education first' approach to teaching training, a teacher delivering developmentally relevant content to a group of engaged students that understand the consequences of under performance on their future vocations, teachers will become again become valued members of a community. Maybe this person should be paid more.

A teacher that performs at a high level within a community and is visible in promoting education of parents' children may even become respected again.  Maybe this is a viable pathway to raising the profile of groups of teachers in the profession at a local level.  Maybe these people should be paid more.

A teacher that brings a wider knowledge of life through experience would help make better citizens.  Maybe this person should be paid more.

Maybe when those in high places actually consider the fiscal issues of a metric based educational economy they will reconsider this whole notion.  Who is looking after or taking chances on the kids that don't make good metrics?

Teaching is and should be always be a vocation well supported by all so that what needs to be done, gets done.  Let's hope it stays that way.


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