23 SES 12 D, Teacher Professionalism
Parallel Paper Session
This paper will present the findings of a study, by the author, into conceptualisations of three constructs: Professionalism, Professional Identity and Professional Status, for lecturers working in the Scottish further education (FE) college sector. The analytical framework for the study is a critique of the literature on ‘teacher’ professionalism, professional identity and professional status and analysis of how these constructs are conceptualised, in the twenty-first century. Following from this, the study shifts from a theoretical and historical field to an investigation of the Scottish policy context through close analysis of the 2004-5 Consultation exercise On the Need for a Professional Body for Staff Working in Scotland’s Colleges (Scottish Executive, 2004). Specifically, critical discourse analysis of the seven Stakeholder Platform statementspresented within the Consultation document.
This study critiques: how the Stakeholder Platforms elucidate conceptualisations, views, positions, ideologies and discourses – dominant and subordinate - on lecturer professionalism, identity and status; why this is significant; and how this interfaces with belonging to a professional body.
It is widely recognised that there is no single definition of professionalism and other related notions, for example, professionality, professional identity and status and professionalisation (Erde, 2008). Professionalism can be seen as a concept or idea that ‘points in many different directions’ (Gewirtz et al., 2009: 3). The authors’ signal two: the first as ‘a category of occupational classification’; and the second as, ‘categorizations of technical and ethical standards claimed on behalf of certain occupational roles’ (ibid). This is useful as it succinctly relates occupational roles with concomitant characteristic standards and codes of (ethical) behaviour but can also be seen as problematic as it signals ‘the exclusionary nature of professions’ and ‘their claims to special status and influence over others’ (Gewirtz et al., 2009: 3). Members of an occupational group belonging to a Professional Body (PB) would be an example of this.
Analysing occupational roles for college lecturers is not as straightforward as it may be for other occupations given the diversity of roles and subject disciplines within FE. Clow (2001: 412-3) noted a construction that she called ‘ex-officio’ professionalism which demonstrated that lecturers strongly associated their professional identity with their occupational subject discipline, rather than their current teaching/lecturing role. This diversity in types of professionalism may lead to a fragmented workforce with no understanding of their individual and collective professional identities, authenticity and agency (Clow, 2001: 417).
The ways in which ‘teachers’ are conceptualised within the twenty-first century, especially within a neo-liberal policy context, has led to a crisis in the way society views them in relation to their professional status and identity and has deprofessionalised teachers and the teaching profession (Hargreaves, 2006). To counter this, Apple argues that we need to better understand, through analysis, the models of professionalism imposed on teachers and to suggest alternative models that have the power to ‘interrupt dominant policies and narratives’ (2009: xvii).
This study does that by identifying the dominant policies, discourses and narratives and interrupts them through a (re)conceptualisation of professionalism for Scottish FE lecturers and beyond.
Apple, M. W. (2009) Foreword. In: Gewirtz, S., Mahony, P., Hextall, I and Cribb, A. (Eds) Changing Teacher Professionalism: international trends, challenges and ways forward. Oxon: Routledge Clow, R. (2001) Further Education Teachers’ Constructions of Professionalism, Journal of Vocational Education and Training, 53 (3):407-419 Dillabough, J. (2006) Gender Politics and the Conception of the Modern Teacher: Women, Identity and Professionalism. In Lauder, H., Brown, P., Dillabough, J. and Halsey, A. H. (Eds) Education, Globalization and Social Change. Oxford: Oxford University Press Erde, E. L. (2008) Professionalism’s Facets: Ambiguity, Ambivalence and Nostalgia. Journal of Medicine and Philosophy. 33 (1) 6-26. Oxford: OUP Evetts, J. (2009) The Management of Professionalism. In: Gewirtz, S., Mahony, P., Hextall, I. and Cribb, A. (Eds) Changing Teacher Professionalism: international trends, challenges and ways forward. Oxon: Routledge Gewirtz, S., Mahony, P., Hextall, I. and Cribb, A. (2009) Policy, Professionalism and Practice: Understanding and Enhancing Teachers’ Work. In: Gewirtz, S., Mahony, P., Hextall, I. and Cribb, A. (Eds) Changing Teacher Professionalism: international trends, challenges and ways forward. Oxon: Routledge Gleeson, D., Davies, J. and Wheeler, E. (2009) Professionalism in the Further Education Workplace. In: Gewirtz, S., Mahony, P., Hextall, I. and Cribb, A. (Eds) Changing Teacher Professionalism: international trends, challenges and ways forward. Oxon: Routledge Goodson, I. F. and Hargreaves, A. (1996) Teachers’ Professional Lives. London: Falmer Press James, D and Biesta, G. (2007) Improving Learning Cultures in Further Education. Oxon: Routledge Scottish Executive. (2004) A Consultation on The Need for a Professional Body for Staff in Scotland’s Colleges. http://www.scotland.gov.uk/consultations/lifelonglearning/npbssc-00.asp Accessed 28.04.2011 Taylor, S. (2001) Locating and Conducting Discourse Analytic Research. In Weatherall, M., Taylor, S. and Yates, S. J. (2001) Discourse as Data: a guide for analysis. London: The Open University, Sage (285)
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