How professional is our teaching fraternity?

Having recently read more about the Finnish educational system and its body of professional teachers, I couldn’t help wonder whether it isn’t time to adopt a truly ‘professional’ approach to teaching in our country.

Yes, we have bodies that represent our teachers, but I very seldom hear them comment on the need for assessment of teachers in the workplace, or of action being taken against teachers who have behaved inappropriately. When teachers strike, do we hear SACE voice their position on the situation? In your experience, how supportive of the profession are the organisations that support teachers?

It makes a lot of sense to create a new professional teaching body – one that has a high-profile and has some clout,  and is seen and heard to support professionalism, like the bar association for lawyers or the Health Professions Council of South Africa. Teachers should be skilled and their behaviour beyond reproach, and they should undertake to follow a code of conduct. If the code is breached they should be banned from teaching.

Teachers should be treated with respect, be paid handsome salaries and be given a chance to show their true potential rather than being bogged down in mindless administrative tasks. To this end, I think schools should have distinct teaching and admin sections so that teachers can focus on the task that they are employed to do. But with these ‘perks’ comes the other side of the scale, which demands that teachers are well trained, that they further themselves with addition study, that they keep abreast of trends in education and always behave in a professional manner.

These are some of the features of the Finnish system which has realised most impressive educational results. When the system was first proposed, many people thought it was unrealistic and over-ambitious ... but it has been implemented and yielded excellent results. For more information, read an article which appeared in The Atlantic.

What would it take to implement something similar in South Africa? I would like to hear your comments.


Note:  Prof Jansen recently endorsed many of these ideas. Read what he had to say ...

Categories: Macrat Musings

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