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Is Teaching A Profession?

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Autor:   •  April 30, 2011  •  2,293 Words (10 Pages)  •  1,736 Views

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"All professions have an identifiable knowledge base. Teaching has no such knowledge base, therefore, it is not a profession" Discuss this statement.

There are different characteristics of what a profession entails of. Some characteristics, such as full graduate training are based on the more known professional modes such as law, medicine and engineering. The majority of critics have agreed on the similar aspects of an occupational group acquiring: a knowledge base, expertise in their field, a sense of autonomy and responsibility which makes them a profession. In regards to teaching, it has sufficient evidence to produce these requirements which enables them to be recognised as a profession in society.

Professions are known to have the power to maintain society and to be capable of providing the necessary services for people who are unqualified to evaluate situations. To provide service to society, it requires knowledge. With any occupational group known as a profession, they must be able to have a knowledge base which contains technical language and specialised knowledge that is above the norm of people in society. This knowledge base would enhance the power and status of any profession within a society. A knowledge base comprises of having higher education training preferably from a degree level. Through this training, it contributes to a student's knowledge base by building on a subject of a specified field which in turn, would be able to apply this subject content intelligently when he/she becomes Ð''professional' in their occupation. Different knowledge bases for different occupations depend on the content being taught in higher education and training. As the content and ideas of each subject are different according to the study being partaken, it shows that the knowledge is unique and is developed for a specific occupation.

Another approach towards an occupation becoming a profession consists of a knowledge base through experiences of practical work. Individuals would learn while working as they will consider research for their projects or observe the problems occurring in the workplace. The development and understanding of this research and observation leads to further creation of a knowledge base in their occupation. The individual will become an expert in their field, hence being professional.

With a profound knowledge base, an occupation who wishes to become a profession is then needed to use their knowledge to implement decisions, which is what's called autonomy.

Autonomy, another characteristic of what makes up a profession is the permission to exercise power based on their specialised knowledge in their field. Lieberman

(1956, p. 89) says that Ð''professional autonomy refers to the scope of independent judgement reserved to professional workers because of their expert skill and knowledge'. With this sense of autonomy, an occupation which has the required expertise can utilise this power over other individuals who aren't credited to have an opinion about a particular field. For a professional to implement their power, they would have come to realise the responsibilities in making a decision. Based on their knowledge through study and training of the field, they are able to apply it to an individual or society's problems. This knowledge can come in the forms of personal knowledge, which is experienced events during other working periods or public knowledge made from professional education. To have authority is to have power, which professions want to acquire. If there are no individual decisions being used or permissible, there is no autonomy which will lead to no profession. There may be difficulties in which autonomy is hard to determine. For example, the determination of the amount of expertise is needed in a situation is needed to solve the problem. Occupations regarded as a profession have obtained a code of ethics which is used to protect professionals from their clients. These codes of ethics are standards in which professions need to be accountable for when working in their practice. It considers the interactions between clients, the community, competence and qualifications of workers.

For an occupation to become a profession they need to be able to produce these characteristics of uniqueness which will lead to increasing their identity in society. From what makes up a profession, teachers are able to; under this criterion with other additional features become what is called a profession.

Teachers and education have gone through changes in which their identity of being a profession has either been deprofessionalised or improved to suit society's and the occupation's needs. It has been increasingly more evident that teaching is a profession.

Throughout the history of teaching, there has been progress, which gives reason to consider that teaching is a profession. The "old teaching profession" (Sachs, 2003, p. 8) includes teachers being given an exclusive membership. This notion of membership means that only people within this occupational group are permitted. Membership becomes restricted to individuals who meet their standards, just like other professions such as doctors. The disadvantage of this was that it was too slow to react to the changing demands of society of inclusion and exclusion of individuals. Although teaching does have the traditional feature of professions, it also has the negative effect which, in end, brought the fall of the old teaching profession and introduced several improvements to identify teaching as a profession.

An improvement of teaching has been identified within their knowledge base. Knowledge is essential for a professional group. The knowledge which is unique is obtained in various ways. One way is the preparation of teachers through higher education. In the long run this will provide teachers with different knowledge, skills and professional values entitled to become professionals. The amount of theory which comes into play for enough knowledge in a profession comes in 2 different forms: the subject content and theoretical models.

To compare a teacher's theory to the other known professions, there are specific subject content in education which includes psychology, sociology, philosophy and the history of education. This claims that teachers do have knowledge, based on theory. Gage (1978) (cited by Hoyle & John, 1995 p. 44) has supported this view by acknowledging that teaching is similarly based on scientific knowledge. When this knowledge is used it is relying on the predictability and the validity from this theory. On the other hand, Burrage & Torstendahl (1990, p. 148) implies that teacher professional knowledge does not require the high level theories that other professions are needed to obtain, such


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