ERIC Identifier: ED347153
Publication Date: 1992-07-00
Author: Abdal-Haqq, Ismat
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Teacher Education Washington DC.
Professionalizing Teaching: Is There a Role for Professional
Development Schools? ERIC Digest.
Since at least the mid-1970s, a number of proposals for improving American
public education have included a call for professionalizing teaching, elevating
teaching to the status of a "true" profession (Burbules & Densmore, 1991;
Howsam, Corrigan, & Denemark, 1985; Soder, 1991). In 1976 the American
Association of Colleges for Teacher Education bicentennial report predicted that
teaching "can and will self-actualize into a profession" and urged "professional
and organizational effort" in that direction (Howsam, et al., 1985, 39). Indeed,
in TOMORROW'S TEACHERS the Holmes Group identified its goal as "nothing less
than the transformation of teaching from an occupation into a genuine
profession" (1986, ix). Such language implies two things: first, that teaching
is not a profession; and second, that there is something desirable, both for
teachers and for the public welfare, in making teaching a profession.
This digest focuses on three aspects of the issue of professionalizing
teaching. First, what defines a profession? Second, how does teaching fall short
of being a true profession? Finally, what contribution can professional
development schools make to teacher professionalization?
WHAT IS A PROFESSION?
Pratte & Rury (1991) succinctly
list four criteria that shape the traditional view of a profession:
remuneration, social status, autonomous or authoritative power, and service.
Burbules and Densmore (1991) label the typical reform approach to teacher
professionalization the "taxonomic approach," which focuses on a list of
characteristics which are typical of occupations that have been traditionally
regarded as professions, especially law and medicine. These characteristics
include: professional autonomy; a clearly defined, highly developed,
specialized, and theoretical knowledge base; control of training, certification,
and licensing of new entrants; self-governing and self-policing authority,
especially with regard to professional ethics; and a commitment to public
service (Burbules & Densmore, 1991; Case, Lanier, & Miskel, 1986;
Haberman, 1991; Pratte & Rury, 1991). Case et al. (1986) include the
presence of a collegium among the essential characteristics of a modern
profession. Sockett (1990) makes a distinction between professionalization,
which focuses on the process by which an occupation becomes a profession, and
professionalism, which describes the quality of practice.
IS TEACHING A PROFESSION?
When teaching is examined through
the lens of traditional perceptions of what constitutes a profession, certain
critical criteria are missing. First, teaching is generally considered to lack a
clearly defined, codified, accessible knowledge base. Goodlad (1990b) maintains
that while there is a "potentially relevant and powerful" knowledge base for
teaching, it has not been codified and rendered useful, and it is generally
inaccessible to practitioners.
Case et al. (1986) contend that the major characteristic of a profession that
is missing from teaching is the presence of a collegium. A sufficient degree of
autonomy and self-governance are also missing (Goodlad, 1990; Levine, 1988).
Levine argues that for teaching to become a self-governing profession it must
have a "structured induction experience conducted under the supervision of
outstanding practitioners who can and will attest to the competence of new
inductees to practice" (1988, 2). Both Levine (1988) and Darling-Hammond (1987)
view as a critical element in teacher professionalism the existence of agreed
upon standards of professional practice shaped by practitioners. Ruth Danis
(personal communication, May 19, 1992), project director of the Rochester (NY)
City School District's PDS program, notes that, "Schools are both public and
professional institutions and that the larger values of society and the
community come into play more consistently in education than in other
professions. Teaching is not strictly a technical/rational, skill-driven task.
The context of teaching is closer in texture to parenting than to debating in a
courtroom or overseeing surgery in an operating room."
The nature of teaching, the context in which it is performed, and the process
by which occupations traditionally have become professions make it impractical
and undesirable to use traditional models of professionalization for teaching
(Burbles & Densmore, 1991; Fenstermacher, 1991; Pratte & Rury, 1991;
Soder, 1990; Tom, 1986). In summary, regardless of whether one agrees that
professionalization is the best path to take to improve the condition of
teachers and teaching, it is evident that several of the key features associated
with professions are missing from teaching.
DO PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT SCHOOLS HAVE A ROLE IN PROFESSIONALIZING TEACHING?
A professional development school (PDS) is a
functioning, exemplary, public school (Holmes, 1986) which has three major
functions: student achievement, teacher induction, and improvement of practice.
Schools which share this mission are also known as professional practice schools
(Levine, 1988) and clinical schools (Meade, 1991). These schools are
collaborations between school districts, colleges, and often, teachers unions;
sites where practitioners, researchers, and clinical faculty work together to
expand the knowledge base of the profession and prepare future practitioners
(THE PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT SCHOOL, 1991).
Many of those who believe that PDSs are a potentially significant element in
professionalizing teaching generally support, at least in part, the medical
model of professionalization and professionalism. Wise maintains that PDSs can
provide an "organized introductory period of supervised teaching" (1989, 31)
which would provide practical experience for beginning teachers in much the same
way as teaching hospitals provide it for beginning physicians.
PDSs can help to promote teacher professionalism and teacher
professionalization by providing a setting in which many of the features
associated with traditional professions, but missing from teaching, can be
developed, tested, and refined, and from which they can eventually be
disseminated. Ultimately, the major contribution of PDSs to the
professionalization of teaching may come from public confidence that the interns
who leave PDSs have been rigorously prepared and confidence that the practices
that have been validated by the PDSs have been rigorously tested. This
confidence provides the foundation for public respect and recognition which, as
Goodlad (1990a) states, are necessary conditions for establishing a profession.
References identified with an EJ or ED number
have been abstracted and are in the ERIC database. Journal articles (EJ) should
be available at most research libraries; documents (ED) are available in ERIC
microfiche collections at more than 700 locations. Documents can also be ordered
through the ERIC Document Reproduction Service: (800) 433-ERIC. References
followed by an SP number were being processed for the ERIC database at the time
of publication. For more information contact the ERIC Clearinghouse on Teacher
Education, One Dupont Circle, NW, Suite 610, Washington, DC 20036-1186; (202)
Burbules, N., & Densmore, K. (1991). The limits of making teaching a
profession. Educational Policy, 5(1), 44-63. EJ 422 827
Case, C. W., Lanier, J. E., & Miskel, C. G. (1986). The Holmes Group
report: Impetus for gaining professional status for teachers. Journal of Teacher
Education, 37(4), 36-43. EJ 340 673
Darling-Hammond, L. (1987). Schools for tomorrow's teachers, Teachers College
Record, 88, 356-358. EJ 350 137
Fenstermacher, G. D. (1990). Some moral considerations on teaching as a
profession. In J. I. Goodlad, R. Soder, & K. A. Sirotnik (Eds.), The moral
dimension of teaching, (pp.130-151). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. ED 337 443
Goodlad, J. I. (1990a). The occupation of teaching in schools. In J. I.
Goodlad, R. Soder, & K. A. Sirotnik (Eds.), The moral dimension of teaching,
(pp. 3-34). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. ED 337 443
Goodlad, J. I. (1990b). Teachers for our nation's schools. San Francisco:
Jossey-Bass. ED 330 655
Haberman, M. (1986). Licensing teachers: Lessons from other professions. Phi
Delta Kappan, 67, 719-722. EJ 345 225
Holmes Group. (1986). Tomorrow's teachers: A report of the Holmes Group. East
Lansing, MI: Author. ED 270 454
Howsam, R. B., Corrigan, D. C., & Denemark, G. W. (1985). Educating a
profession. Reprint with postscript 1985. Washington, DC: American Association
of Colleges for Teacher Education. ED 270 430
Levine, M. (1988). Introduction. In M. Levine (Ed.), Professional practice
schools: Building a model (pp. 1-25). Washington, DC: American Federation of
Teachers. ED 313 344
Meade, E. J., Jr. (1991). Reshaping the clinical phase of teacher
preparation. Phi Delta Kappan, 72, 666-669. EJ 425 517
Pratte, R., & Rury, J. L. (1991). Teachers, professionalism, and craft.
Teachers College Record, 93, 59-72. EJ 438 554
The professional development school: A common sense approach to improving
education. [Draft]. (1991). Fort Worth, TX: Sid Richardson Foundation.
Sockett, H. (1990). Accountability, trust, and ethical codes of practice. In
J. I. Goodlad, R. Soder, & K. A. Sirotnik (Eds.), The moral dimension of
teaching, (pp. 224-250). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. ED 337 443
Soder, R. (1990). The rhetoric of teacher professionalization. In J. I.
Goodlad, R. Soder, & K. A. Sirotnik (Eds.), The moral dimension of teaching,
(pp. 35-86). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. ED 337 443
Tom, A. R. (1986). The Holmes report: Sophisticated analysis, simplistic
solutions. Journal of Teacher Education, 37(4), 44-46. EJ 340 674
Wise, A. E. (1989). If we are ever to "professionalize" school teaching,
universities must redesign education programs. The Teacher Educator, 24(4),
29-32. EJ 395 990