Teachers' Perception and Attitudes towards Teaching as a Profession

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INTRODUCTION

Work is a hard word to define. Most of the definitions refer to useful, prolific activity, and the effort by which someone earns a living. People work to gain an identity.  Identity is the way to enjoy using their skills and talents and also enjoy working hard to improve those skills. A job is a collection of responsibilities that one agrees to perform for an employer. A profession is actually a collection of jobs involving similar tasks.

In Pakistan, parents usually plan the prospective professions for their children. However, the rising graph of un-employment leaves no choice for literate people but to agree to avail the opportunity for earning in the closer field. The happiest and most successful people are those who do plan. In learning organizations, people believe in the work ethics. And people’s attitude is their basic stance on life. 

In recent times, there has been a growing interest for teaching to be considered as a corporate profession in private sector of Lahore, which demands to introduce not only qualified but also well-equipped teachers into teaching industry. In Lahore, where there are opportunities offered to qualified professionals to serve in diverse fields, people are intending to join teaching as a life-career exclusive of adequate teaching skills. However, teaching young children has traditionally be seen as having far more to do with inculcating acceptable standards of behaviour and conformity’ (Groundwater-Smith, Ewing & Le Cornu, 2003, p. 41). Piaget and Vygotsky illuminate the responsibility of adults in the “context of learning” and “social interaction” (Alfrey, 2003). Therefore, certainly teachers’ role become more challenging and demanding as they are considered to be well organized with teaching skills and have certain level of teaching autonomy rather than being ‘in authority’ or ‘an authority’ in the learning process (Peters, 1967).

Only those people can take on the passionate responsibilities of transforming children into good citizens who plan teaching as a career and are sufficiently prepared with teaching skills, which indicates the importance of development of adequate skills, dedication to teaching and a determination for continuous growth and learning (Arshad 1993, cited in Hussain, 2004). For that reason, it is required to ensure that children are developed and taught by highly committed professional teachers. Hence, earlier discussion establishes that teaching with commitment results in the children’s development in a creative manner for life-long learning.

Distant learning and regular morning and evening programme of teacher education are being offered by public and private sectors vocational training institutes and universities in Lahore. Hussain (2004) raises the point that teacher [education] is not the only factor that has to be obligatory for [in-service] and prospective teachers but also an aptitude towards teaching is an inevitable feature to look forward to. Due to a significant discrepancy in the curriculum and teaching methodology in both sectors, it would seem that such investigations are needed in order to reflect on in-service teachers’ perception of teaching as a profession in teachers of private sector in Lahore.

LITERATURE REVIEW

Mary Kelly, former chairperson of the Australian Teaching Council (ATC), an organization that systematically outlines the changing nature of teachers’ work and encourages recognition of that work both industrially and professionally, noted that:

‘Without our teachers and schools, there would be no process whereby … citizens could participate in a common experience based on common values.’   

 Kelly, 1996, p.1

Social Cohesion

Societies in Lahore have combinations of various interest groups with different beliefs and values and with different professional background, for instance, businessmen, government employees, workers and managers from private sector, engineers, doctors etc. Educational aims, therefore, are set to cater for education to the children of various social groups. The overall educational aim of an educational system is to equip young generation with problem-solving and critical thinking skills for their practical life to promote ‘Social Cohesion’ … to live together harmoniously and with self-respect (Winch & Gingell, 1999, p.222).

Schools of Thought

Education systems in Lahore have been emphasizing on quality education by engaging qualified personnel; however, Winch & Gingell (1999) believe that educational aim is not explicitly exposed to everyone. From overarching umbrella of academia, each education system has adopted a particular learning theory and designed its own curriculum. Though, for educators it remains contested that ‘Why to Teach?’, ‘What to Teach?’ and ‘How to Teach? Besides educational aim, teachers are [less] encouraged to have any orientation or aptitude to join teaching as a profession in private schools so they are considered just a replaceable item that may be retained in school until another suitable teacher joins (Singh and Rana, 2000, p.161-162).

Singh and Rana (2002) define a historic teacher who … explained the meaning of human existence … while a modern teacher is someone divine in human form. Research shows that a good teacher possesses knowledge, skills to communicate and understand, a positive attitude towards profession, personal competency to use abilities to produce a socially agreed upon result, and professional competencies (Singh and Rana, 2002, p. 4). The qualities of an effective teacher are a blend of attributes and pedagogical skills, which endorse quality learning in ordinary conditions (Boylan, Battersby, Wallac, & Retallick, 1991; Brookfield, 1995; Cullingford, 1995; Hill & Hawk, 1998; Ramsay & Oliver, 1994; and Ramsden, 1992 cited in McGee & Fraser, 2005). Personal traits of effective teachers include treating students with respect, being compassionate and confidential, having a sense of humour, acting in a just and fair manner and be friendly but firm (McGee & Fraser, 2005). Furthermore, it was believed that … childhood teaching required similar skills to those associated with child rearing [i.e. women’s work] (Groundwater-Smith, Ewing & Le Cornu, 2003, p. 41). They suggest that teachers’ work is to concern with patterns of behaviour in our society and their consequences for young [children, whether boys or girls]. In addition, consciousness of oneself, attentiveness to others, ability to communicate and collaborate with others, resourcefulness, openness to change, understanding of cultural dimensions, analytical ability of educational systems and their impact on learning milieu and sense of self-confidence (Melnick & Zeichner, 1998). Teachers will therefore be appreciated not only for their knowledge and purely technical skills but also for their personal qualities (Tedesco, 1996, p. 1). However, there are teachers who ‘make their life easier at the cost of others’ (Singh and Rana, 2002, p. 64-65).

Teaching means to make someone learn. The quality of learning is directly proportional to the quality of teaching. For quality learning, ‘each teacher must identify and voice his or her own vision … which will foster students’ growth (McGee & Fraser, 2005, p. 76-77). They also, suggest teachers to have well-defined learning goals … to make very precise decisions about the kinds of learning wanted and [to] share these goals with students. Busher and Saran (1995, P. 40) suggest that teacher has to ‘be available for work, for planning, delivery and performance. Moreover, the teacher’s role is changing from that of instructor to that of a leader of learning. Increasingly, the teacher is being asked to teach students how to learn, to solve problems, to analyse and so on, so as to become life-long learners (Kelly, 1996, p.1).

Occupation is trade, profession or type of work performed by an individual, independent of the worker’s industry, status or years of experience (Singh and Rana, 2002, p.148); in addition, they have pointed out two additional attributes of a profession – it is bound by its own declared ethics and supervised by its own people (p.65). A profession is a guild of practitioners … because they possess and are master of knowledge base that is sufficiently esoteric (Strike, 1993, p. 257). McGee & Fraser define the term ‘professional teacher’ as a teaching activity that is widely practised in the community (2005, p. 274)  however, [professional teacher] are publicly accredited to teach and fulfil public, rather than private, teaching functions (Goodlad, 1990 cited in McGee & Fraser, 2005, p. 274). Teachers are smartly replaced like other industries if [they] do not adjust to [a] much sharper view of the world … in the service industry (Ramsey, 2000, p. 12). Teaching in ‘education industry’ emphasising on ‘individual rights’ (McGee & Fraser, 2005, p. 277) of what Rishworth (1999, p. 4) states as ‘education law’. Downie (1990) suggests that the attitude of tuism [taking account of you] is an ideal characteristic of all the helping professions, including teaching (cited in McGee & Fraser, 2005, p. 277). In addition, teaching as ‘community of practice’, called as ‘guild’ by scholars in England (Lave and Wenger, 1991).

The role perception indicates how training influences a teacher’s profession as a whole, the difference that he finds before and after training to understand what his duty should be – only to teach, only to provide information, only to influence students or to do something beyond these activities (Singh and Rana, 2002, p.147). Government of Pakistan emphasises that if teachers are well-trained and highly motivated, learning will be enhanced (quoted in Hussain, 2004).

In addition, improvement of the profession of education lies in the hands of teacher education (Govt. of Pakistan, 1997 cited in Hussain, 2004). ‘Professionalism’ is regarded as benefiting the practitioners and ‘professionality’, a term coined to refer to professional activity aimed at benefiting students (Hoyle, 1975). Hoyle differentiates between extended professionality that leads to continuing professional development while restricted professionality has greater autonomy. Extended professionality is the basis for greater public confidence in teacher professionalism (Evans, 1997 and Sachs, 1997). INSET enlightens professional training as the received learning ‘delivered’ by experts through planned workshops and professional support as the received learning ‘acquired’ on the job from colleagues (Oldroyd and Hall, 1991). Teacher education is needed for developing a purpose and formulation of a positive attitude among prospective teachers for the profession (Aggarwal, 1993).

RESEARCH METHODLOGY

The subject of the research contained in-service teachers as teaching was best done by those who had high levels of literary attainment (Groundwater-Smith, Ewing & Le Cornu, 2003, p. 42). However, the proposed study did not require only the few highly literate professionals to include but also majority of the teachers  who were practising as classroom practitioners in the private sector of education as ‘target population’ (Best & Kahn, 2006, p. 13). In Lahore, there are networks of private schools to cater education for the children of different social groups. Such networks consist of trust school, business purpose schools, NGO’s school etc. The private school teachers were clustered according to different social groups i.e. teachers of the students from elite, upper middle, middle, and lower class. In Lahore, teachers of English medium private schools have been following different learning theories taken from over arching umbrella of academia.

The study required to collect data from a range of recently joined teachers to more experienced teachers from each of selected English medium private school ‘so that chance or the operation of probability is utilized’ (Best & Kahn, 2006, p. 13). Therefore, researcher selected sample teachers from those schools, which were nearby and easily approachable. Mainly, due to research on a small scale that required only thirty sample teachers, researcher could not include all private schools that qualified selection criteria of population.

Survey research consisted of questionnaires to obtain a quantitative data, like Johnson & Christensen (2000) states that [teachers] opinion polls are always survey (p. 277); as it requires less time, is less expensive, and permits collection of data from a much larger sample (p. 281).

Interviews would provide spontaneous responses of teachers and administrators about teachers’ recruitment, working conditions in schools, job satisfaction regarding appraisal and salary, job description and teachers’ performance indicators. By establishing a rapport and a trust relationship, the interviewer can often obtain data that respondents would not give on a questionnaire (Johnson & Christensen, 2000, p. 291).

The researcher used statistical measures between variables to develop generalization of the present scenario and prediction of future setting as statistical data describe group behaviour … abstracted from a number of individual observations (Best & Kahn, 2006, p. 354); although  they say that descriptive statistical analysis limits generalization (p. 355). Therefore, inferential analysis was used to get hold of the conclusion, as drawing conclusions about populations based on observation of sample is the purpose of inferential analysis (Best & Kahn, 2006, p. 356).

Findings and Discussions

The findings in the data show that respondents’ level of agreement with teaching is the best job rises after spending 5 years in teaching or due to financial growth approaching to Rs30000 or more. 76.6 % teachers of the sample size rank teaching is the best job for them who have 5 years or more experience however, 60 % respondents earn a maximum of Rs.39000. Figure 5.3 explains that 6.6 % female respondents with maximum income ranging from Rs.20000 – 29000 could not decide whether teaching is the best job for them. They might be agreed with the statement if salaried better. On the other hand, 10 % teachers taking in 6.6 % female and 3.3 % male respondents are inclined towards disagreed level of teaching is the best job due to a low-income profile ranging from Rs.10000 – 29000.

Fifty percent of the respondents who are female think during entire range of work experience that they could perform better in any other field of profession. It can be assumed that literate female might join teaching due to social and cultural boundaries set by the family heads. In addition, it can be hypothetical that teaching is considered the best activity by un-married female after completion of their studies. There are other motivational factors, which have been analysed through group interviews of the teachers.

Teachers of master level qualification with experience ranging from 6 – 15 years from both categories of gender depict mix behaviour with varied income range towards teaching is their last choice. Teachers during a period of 11 – 15 year are almost found totally inclined towards the test variable. The tangible reason might be joblessness but family pressure in case of female teachers cannot be rejected. With an extensive experience, female sample teachers with master and graduate level of qualification are moving towards the agreed end of continuum of the said statement. It explains that due to unavailability of the opportunities in other fields, literate people tend to move in the direction of teaching for a respectable earning. It may also be assumed that in private sector, educational institutes do not require pre-service teacher training or teacher education at the time of recruitment. Moreover, school administration replaces unsuccessful teachers when they get the right person. This dimension of teaching profession demands teachers to have not only a high literacy academic background but also teaching skills, mind-set and passion towards teaching profession. 

It is also inferred from the data that the existence of other attitudes with which teachers come across while interacting with all stakeholders during a school day affect teachers’ morality that ultimately leave an effect on ranking teaching as a high status profession.

Comparison of different sub-areas of the research study with educational qualification – work experience – income / gender reveals that income is the dominant factor on which teaching is ranked by the sample teachers of the whole population. Teachers feel good and show a positive attitude towards different sub-areas of teaching as profession if they are paid enough to live an average standard of life.

Subsequent segment of analyses would have analyzed commitment towards teaching profession that explains the philosophy of teaching and teachers’ attitude with some other parameters.

43.3 % teachers of the sample size from both categories of gender earn the same respect from their students who follow the set of values and principles while interacting with their students because they believe school environment leaves a greater impact on students’ learning. On the other hand, 20 % respondent teachers do not earn the same respect from all of their students because they tend to deny following values and principles while interacting with students and point the finger at family environment regarding children’s learning. Therefore, it can be depicted that like other corporate business only those companies earn a good status in the market place which not only provide quality services to their consumers at a minimum cost but also follow the professional ethics set by the organization, teaching is required to set professional ethics and norms. And following those explicit norms and values tend to consider teaching as a corporate profession.

Mean value of sample teachers who plan differentiated lesson to make each student understand is 4.61 at St. Deviation 0.497 and the mean value of respondents who can earn better through home tuition is 3.27 at St. Deviation 1.413. Correlation shows that p value of significance is 0.004 which is less than 0.05 level of significance. So, there is no relation between planning differentiated lesson to make each student understand and earning better through home tuition. By comparing mean values it can be concluded that respondent teachers plan differentiated lesson to cater for whole class whether they can earn better through home tuition or not. This attitude of respondent teachers generalizes the fact that teachers’ job is make each student understand effectively in school by planning according to individual needs, which is a positive perspective of teaching profession; also, refers to catering for Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences (Gardner & Hatch, 1989).

Sample teachers strongly demand for updated subject knowledge and the ability to impart the knowledge effectively through well-planned and well-organized lesson in an innovative and creative way of teaching.

Respondent teachers believe that the moral values and principles can be efficiently induced into students by being punctual, regular, firm and friendly, kind, disciplined, sincere and sympathetic.

Teachers’ presentation features include well dressed, well groomed and interactive with good communication skills.

The facilitation of significant learning rests upon certain attitudinal qualities that exist in the personal relationshipbetween facilitator and learner (Rogers, 1990). The positive attitudes of teachers refer to cooperation, receptive to criticism, learned, willing to listen and to learn, well-behaved and showing patience.

The professional traits of teacher comprise of competence that enable teachers to use different teaching strategies while planning and implementing the lesson and manage their time and resources effectively. Being a reflective practitioner, teachers enable to evaluate their classroom practice critically for improvement, as reflection is not an end itself (Groundwater-Smith, Ewing & Le Cornu, 2003, p. 162).  

Dedication, devotion, passionate and commitment refer to teachers’ faithfulness towards children’s development process as Rogers defines teacher be real and trustworthy persons with empathetic understanding (1990).

Respondents’ comments were added to open a room for further investigations considering teaching as a corporate profession in Lahore. The results explain respondent teachers’ demand for pre-service and in-service teacher training integrated with technology besides provision of opportunities to enhance qualification. They give an opinion that institution should also facilitate teachers enrolling themselves in professional development courses. They require management to be un-biased in promoting creative minded teachers which refers to a responsible role of administrator and advisory teacher regarding teachers’ professional growth along-with institutional expansion.

Sample teachers point out that teachers are ignorant of individual needs and do not bother about students’ personality but they work according to their salary. Conversely, some teachers respond that teachers are playing a positive role in building the characters of students and they should be paid well so they pay more attention to their profession. Behaviour shows that a professional and honest teacher remains hand to mouth. Such responses describe that teaching is a mean of respectable earning with social activities and community building upon which future of the nation rests. Like they quoted other business organizations, where professionals are paid according to their qualifications, training and experience, teachers must be paid enough well so that they may be able to put in their utmost effort, skills and potential to their core job sincerely. Regulation and skill formation of human capital through education and training, and schools and education system are key strategic sites from where the nation can achieve its social and economical priorities (Groundwater-Smith, Ewing & Le Cornu, 2003, p. 38-39).  

Teachers perceive that teaching is high level profession at university level. They suggest to provide due respect to teachers in the society however, teachers’ respect is directly proportional to their personal and professional traits regardless of the salary earned as the analysis described in earlier discussion.

Another response demonstrates that the lack of coordination meetings with parents and students creates a gap between students’ needs and planning teaching strategies for improvement in students’ performance. If different perspectives are not clearly understood … children may be placed in the difficult situation of trying to reconcile (McGee & Fraser, 2005, p. 265-266).

Data from two groups of in-service teachers strengthens that married female teachers come into teaching to enjoy less working hours and they prefer to utilize day time in school with their children. It facilitates female teachers to avail free education of their children along with a satisfactory amount of financial support for their families. They make clear that teaching is a comparatively secure social activity than any other profession which allows them to build adolescents’ character. However, little behaviour shows that teachers work in creative manner according to their salary. They think that due to economic crisis, living a simple life turns out to be hard. Respondents explain that there is no other choice for literate female except teaching in order to support their families. As far as male teachers are concerned, they agree to become a teacher with no proper planning and call themselves ‘teachers by chance’ or ‘accidental teachers’.  However, they think that their children’s free education facility is the vital element that encourages them to continue teaching as a profession. In addition, respondents make a link of their financial enhancement through home tuition being subject specialists with the private practice of the specialist visiting doctors.

Teachers’ responses regarding working conditions and job satisfaction, when compare to their salary show mixed behaviour. Quite a good number of teachers claim that their salary does not match with the workload, they are assigned. They perceive that they can have better monetary benefits in the competitive educational environment of Lahore. However, some teachers respond in a fairly ethical manner of religion pertaining to satisfaction of their income. In addition, respondents think that the administration does not appreciate suggestions from the teaching staff and hardly shows readiness to modify current practices.

On the topic of pre-service and in-service teacher training and professional development, almost all of the teachers consider it as an essential domain of professional requirements. Their demand is to facilitate new induction through proper mentoring in order to assess their potential of dealing with different age groups (as it was established in chapter 1); and to make new induction clear about system’s requirements and its policies. They think that educational / subject refresher workshops and professional development courses must be an integral field of in-service teaching to make them learn new techniques of teaching and to upgrade their knowledge.

Teachers tend to favour pre-service training, which enables them to understand the variety of activities; they are supposed to do, while teaching. Moreover, respondents quote that a doctor goes through house-job period before practicing as a general practitioner and in order to construct a building; people study engineering of the relevant field, then in the same way teachers must attend pre-service training as they are contributing in building the nation. Sample teachers responses show that teachers might consider themselves successful even if they build personalities of a few students of the multitude. Although, an outlier does not support pre-service teacher training that underpins teachers’ perception, who consider that teaching as a profession requires only higher literacy attainments.

Few teachers point out that they are determined to enroll themselves in CPD activities but due to the restriction of signing bond for a particular time period with the system, they do not take initiative. Such attitude refers to restricted professionality, where teachers’ prospective CPD activities have a tendency to be affected by school policies.

Recommendations for In-Service Teachers

Researcher strongly felt during the entire study that because of the absence of prior planning, teachers who enter in the teaching profession by chance or accidentally are required to build up a professional attitude by acquiring essential skills of teaching through Continuing Professional Development (CPD) programmes.

Teachers are required to analyze their strengths being teachers, which enable them to prevail over their weaknesses through proper planning. They should explore such opportunities of acquiring professional skills, which in turn benefit them in teaching with different strategies to cater children of ‘multiple intelligences’ (Gardner & Hatch, 1989).

Instead of being pessimistic, they should develop an optimistic approach towards teaching as a profession since it demands to spend reasonably good time in planning diverse and creative lesson to cater for differentiated leaning abilities. A positive attitude would lead them to consider teaching as a high status profession.

Competent teachers should take initiatives in building a culture of sharing and working as team members to compensate their colleagues who have comparatively more work load. They should also encourage each other by celebrating individual teacher’s achievements and rewards in their free time.

Teachers, who are earning through home tuitions, are required to abide by the professional ethics in order to enhance morality of teaching profession.

Teachers should develop a positive stance while interacting with the management since management intention is to create a bridge between system’s policies and the teachers.

Recommendations for Management

To maintain quality teaching, intensive workshops should be conducted before beginning of the academic year for newly inducted teachers. In addition, a mentor teacher who is other than the school administrator should be assigned to train new induction for a complete term. Moreover, in order to reduce teachers’ turnover per annum, unbiased appraisal should be assured and monitored at each level of the management.  Furthermore, school management should justify teachers’ work load with them individually that would help bridging the gap between teachers and management.

Conclusion

The findings of the data revealed that giving consideration to teaching as a corporate profession is indispensable in the private sector of Lahore. It is observed by the fact that in-service teachers have selected teaching as their earning tool with no prior planning but they have been trying to become effective teachers with the existing situation to the best of their potential. Keeping in view that due to the un-availability of employment in various fields of profession in Lahore, literate people have adjusted themselves as dispensers of knowledge, thus helping themselves to secure employment followed by economic security which is their primary objective. On the other hand, despite the needs to formulate professional attitudes in in-service teachers, teachers need to know themselves as ‘nation builders’ as they are futurologists (Hodge, 1993, p. 148). Therefore, this research is useful not only for in-service teachers to take the ownership of building the nation by developing extended professionality. It also, offers direction to the management of private schools in Lahore in terms of providing a baseline for them to facilitate in-service teachers not only with teaching skills, strategies and methodologies but also creating a healthy and learning environment, better working conditions and revising their salaries to put up with economic instability. That will ultimately help stimulating teachers’ potential to their best. In the large interest of in-service teachers, they need to know their vision as nation builders. An assertive attitude with a blissful vision leads teachers to recognize the work; they have been doing as professionals.

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Source by Farhana Iqbal
Farhana Iqbal

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