02 SES 16 A, Teachers' Assessment, Evaluation and Validation
The paper considers, what factors determine vocational teachers’ career paths and how the two systemic transformations in education have been related to the changes in vocational teachers’ careers.
During the last 25 years, Estonian education has undergone two main transformations. First, the transformation related to the societal regime, accompanied by the radical introduction of a liberal market economy. For followed by the emerging independent education system in late 1980 and early 1990s. Secondly, the transformation guided by neoliberal principles and values since the beginning of the 2000s. (Loogma, Tafel-Viia, Ümarik, 2013). While the first period witnessed decentralization, freedom and innovations in education (Loogma et al, 2012, Kesküla and Loogma, 2016), since the late 1990s neoliberalism, accompanied with increasing standardization, ´New Public Management´ (NPM), and Europeanization in education, have had major influence on education, restructuring the work of educators.
Theoretically, the biographic perspective of work and learning of an individual can be analysed, built on the concept of career (Loogma, 2004) or life career (Watson, 1980). The concept of career is dynamic and contested, comprising the construction of activities and events in various contexts over the life course. Even individuals’ attitudes, behaviour, and preferences can be modified through the life-career, there is some integrity, manifesting itself in the concept of self. This concept refers to the identity, which develops throughout life in interaction with the others (Watson, 1980, p 124). Therefore, the concept of career is an overarching construction, connecting past, present and future and giving meaning to life and work of an individual, enabling to construct relations between different activities and spheres of life (Young, Collin 2000: 5).
Individuals’ life career is influenced by objective, structural/context factors, as well as subjective factors like interests, motives, other personal traits (Watson, 1980) and agency. The latter can be regarded as individuals’ ability to change and adjust the career path and work identity in circumstances, when with changing structural conditions. Individuals´ abilityto adjust and change the career courseaccording changing structural conditions is treated by Habermas as a high cultural achievement of an individual (Habermas 1976, in Loogma, 2004).
Situations, attitudes, and behaviour related to work can shift as a result of structural changes both outside and inside of workplaces. There is a distinction between structural factors that are not related to work (like class-family-education cluster and gender-race-media and peer influences) from one side and structural factors, related rather to work sphere (like occupational/employment structure, labour market conditions) (Watson, 1980, p 127). These structural conditions form the opportunity sets for individuals (ibid). However, the changes, particularly radical changes like it has happened in the early 1990s in Eastern Europe, have changed the opportunity structures for individuals to work and develop their career. As well, significant changes in attitudes towards the work can occur if the circumstances of an individual and/or structural factors change. However, each individual has a subjective career as a subjective view of the process, which his/her life is following (Watson, 1980, p 124). Subjective career is manifesting itself in narratives, what and how individuals recall and tell about their life and career. In the paper, we are asking, what kind of transformation-related changes vocational teachers have recalled and how the changes are reflected in vocational teachers’ life stories? We argue that structural factors, particularly those, related to the broader socio-economic and political transformations, have influenced vocational teachers’ life careers in both ways – opening up new work career perspectives and at the same time, closing some opportunities for work careers.
The research is based on narrative life history interviews, conducted with experienced vocational teachers. The two-steps narrative interview method was applied. In the first stage, the non-structured interview approach was applied and interviewee talked freely about the way they have got to the position of vocational teacher. In the second stage, the structured approach to interviewing was applied and the questions, specifying the necessary aspects of the life stories and questions, concerning work identity, autonomy, and future perspectives were discussed. The construction of the sample was based on the principle of heterogeneity: variety according to age, gender, region, work experience, speciality taught was followed. Altogether 21 vocational teachers were interviewed. The analysis of interviews is based on the transcribed texts of interviews. In the data analysis the three-steps text/thematic analysis was applied: 1) the coding of content units 2) categorization (aggregating the content units into categories) 3) conceptualization/generation of categories into patterns.
The results make visible the patterns, how and why respondents have chosen the career of vocational teacher and what kind of choices they made in times, when their opportunity set has changed. For example, in some cases the choice of the career was related to the non-work structural conditions like working class family background and the need for a fast transition into the labour market in young age. In some cases, movement into the field of vocational education, which was politically preferred educational path, was related to the material benefits, allowed by the state to people, working in vocational education. Furthermore, in most cases, becoming a vocational teacher was a consequence of rather accidental circumstances, related to the need for teachers in the vocational schools, such as invitations from vocational schools and later, introduction of new specialities (like tourism) in vocational schools and consequent need for (new) teachers. Teachers agency was rather rarely emerging in their career choices. Furthermore, many specialities, acquired in vocational education in the Soviet time, lost their relevance in the labour market after introducing market economy in the early 1990s. The radical restructuring of the employment structure in the early 1990s resulted in massive loose of work of many agricultural and industrial workers. In some cases, the workers from shrinking sectors undertook the radical career turn, starting the career of vocational teacher in new, emerging sectors, such as service. While the educational transformation in the early 1990s brought radical work and career changes, the transformation to a neoliberal path in education demanded from vocational teachers rather an adjustment to changing work context, such as changes resulted in introducing NPM and „audit culture” (Apple 2013), in the schools, the rise of bureaucracy, chronic sense of work overload (Ballet, Kelchtermans 2009), changing student contingent and others.
Apple, M. W. (2013). Audit cultures, labour, and conservative movements in the global university. Journal of Educational Administration and History, 45 (4), 385-394. Doi: 10.1080/00220620.2013.822349 Ballet, K. and Kelchtermans, G. (2009). Struggling with workload: primary teachers’ experience of intensification. Teaching and Teacher Education, 25 (8), 1150-1157. Doi: 10.1016/j.tate.2009.02.012 Using thematic analysis in psychology Braun, V and Clarke, V (2006). Using Thematic Analysis in Psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology 2006; 3: 77-101 Habermas, J. (1976). KönnenkomplexeGesellschafteneinevernünftigeIdentitätausbilden? – J. Habermas (ed.). ZurRekonstruktion des historischenMaterialismus. Framkfurt/M. Kesküla, Eeva; Loogma, Krista (2017). The value of and values in teachers’ work in Estonia. Work, Employment and Society,31 (2), 248-264 Loogma, K. (2004). Töökeskkonnasõppimisetähendustöötajatekohanemiseltöömuutustega (doktoritöö). Tallinn: TPÜ Kirjastus. Loogma, K., Tafel-Viia, K., Ümarik, M. (2013). Conceptualizing Educational Changes: a Social Innovation Approach. Journal of Educational Changes, 283–301. 10.1007/s10833-012-9205-2. Loogma, K. Keskküla, E., Kolka, P., Sau-Ek, K. (2012). Curriculum Change in Teachers’ Experience: The Social Innovation Perspective. Pedagogy, Culture and Society, 20(3), 353–376. Young., R. A. and Collin, A. (2000). Introduction: framing the future of career. - Collin, A., Young, R. A. (eds.). The Future of Career. Cambridge University Press, 1–17. Watson,T.J (1980). Sociology, Work and Industry. Routledge&Kegan Paul: London, Boston and Henely
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