This research will explore the parents/general public and educators’ views on the teaching profession. It will investigate whether the perceived value of the teaching profession has undergone a historical change from a culture of high public esteem to a culture of impertinence towards educators over the past years, and possibly outline various factors which may have attributed to such transition. I intend to explore this enigma and delve into the history of schools and shed a light as to why some educators claim that this profession is becoming unbearable, and also the component of teacher attrition. It will enable me to investigate various attitudes, opinions and point of views of different stakeholders. The relevance of this topic is the controversial aspect of the growing critism towards educators, and yet the trust in their competence.
I shall be conducting qualitative/mixed-method research, as I believe that this will put me in a better position to be able to compare and contrast the information I derive from different generations and eras.
- In what ways does the perception/outlook towards teachers vary amongst the educators and the general public?
- How high is the reputational risk of teacher prestige and how can it be managed?
The aim of this research is to explore the complexity of participants’ inner thoughts and interpretations including their perceptions of factors that have influenced them to think or behave in certain ways. This research also aspires to provide a way forward and propose possible actions and reforms in order to alleviate such animosity. It also aims to identify why there has been a decrease in college students choosing the teaching profession, hence the shortage of subject teachers and recruitment of less suitably-qualified educators.
Literature Review (500 words)
Research suggests that there has been a decline in the prestige towards the teaching profession (Hall & Langton, 2006). Social media is one of the main factors that influence public perception. Media coverage seem to focus primarily on either teachers’ misconduct or on the entitlement of holidays. When one considers choosing teaching as a profession, thinks of the benefits rather than the dedication, love and passion for the actual job. This is an insult to the majority of dedicated teachers who place their pupils’ learning needs and education above every other personal consideration. The research literature indicates that educational institutions need to analyse community perceptions critically if teachers are to be held in higher professional regard (Brickman, 2010). Burns and Darling-Hammond (2014) declare that in countries like Finland, Singapore and South Korea, where the teaching profession is highly respected, the students benefit more from their learning experience. Furthermore, there is a close relation between the teachers’ perception towards their social status, and other factors of quality education such as professional development and training. (Hargreaves and Flutter, 2013; as cited Symeonidis, 2015). According to an international study carried out in the 90’s, a considerable number of teachers in European countries believe that the teaching profession is not given the high reputable status that it deserves and lacks public respect. (Eurydice, 2004) Consequently, Verhoeven et al. state that if teachers were to improve their approach towards the students and their parents, the public perception towards the profession will ameliorate. (Verhoeven et al., 2006).
The review of literature will focus on six main areas: history of the Maltese educational system, teacher quality, educators’ tenure, ethical conduct, teacher attrition and unions.
- Semi-structured Interviews
- Focus group with 6 teachers
According to Creswell (1994), the researcher’s theory of knowledge is an epistemology that can serve to decide how social phenomena can be studied. This study will be conducted using the phenomenology paradigm in which the concept “regard of the teaching profession” will be featured as a phenomenon. An important aspect of analysis in phenomenal logical studies is to stay close to the meanings as expressed by participants. Mouton and Marais (1990, p. 12) state that phenomenologists “hold explicit beliefs.” Therefore, the commitment to abide by the participants meaning will diminish the risk of imposing my own bias over the data. Furthermore, interview records will be transcribed and sent to the participants for the verification of data, thus retaining the research’s clarity and ensuring that all the terminology would be used and understood in the same manner by both parties.
Contrastingly, Hammersley states that the researcher should not be detached from his/her own pre-assumptions. The notion of social criticism itself has changed over recent times. He expands this idea by saying that postmodernism, essentially, “subjects to sceptical criticism any framework that could indicate what would count as more or less convincing evidence” (2000, p. 2). With the shift in society’s collectively-agreed norms and ideals, the methods and their form evolve as a consequence, rejecting their previous embodiment completely. He makes a fundamental distinction “between a research that retains a commitment towards the possibility of knowledge that is valid from all points of view and that which does not” (2000, p. 5). That is, if objective knowledge is possible, then the researcher’s true intention should be to remain critical while inevitably remaining biased.
The intention of this research is to gather data contained within the participants’ perspectives about the phenomenon of the educators’ prestige. Purposive sampling allows the researcher to access “knowledgeable people” (Ball, 1990) while not trying to seem “objective,” as it is virtually impossible to be. However, purposive sampling benefits this research immensely, as it will provide valuable information from a credible source.
A study group of teachers who will be selected using the purposive sampling method will be recruited on a voluntary basis, and semi-structured interviews will be used as the data collection tool. An in-depth engagement with the participants will take place to learn about their opinions, experiences, perceptions, and interpretations. Hence, the data will be collected in a flexible and open-ended manner to draw out the most textural and structural descriptions of participants’ experiences.
The validation of the study will be done with the tools borrowed from the methods of quantitative research, which are the stability of observations, parallel forms, and inter-rater reliability (Cohen, 2007). The metrics of these principles can determine whether or not the steps of the research were done in a consistent manner – and whether the researcher would have come up with analogous results under different circumstances.
The data will be coded and later organized, categorized, and defined according to the specified themes.
The reliability formula developed by Miles and Huberman (1994), Reliability = Consensus/Consensus + Disagreement, will test the content analysis. Additional measures will be taken to ensure the research’s reliability, such as the chronological timeline of the problem will be taken into account, and interviewees will be carefully selected and made sure to have diverse points of view. This will provide a set of data that will illustrate the problematics of the perception of education from different angles and take the findings closer to objectivity.
Brickman, W. (2010). The Quest for Quality in Teacher Education. European Education, 42(2), 67-73. Web.
Hall, D., & Langton, B. (2006). Perceptions of the status of teachers ministry of education. New Zealand: Ministry of Education
Burns, D., & Darling-Hammond, L. (2014). Teaching around the world: What can TALIS tell us?Stanford, CA: Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education.
Symeonidis, V. (2015). The status of teachers and the teaching profession a study of education unions’ perspectives. Web.
Atkinson, N. (1969). Educational Construction in Malta. The Irish Journal of Education / Iris Eireannach an Oideachais, 3(1), 29-40. Web.
Eurydice (2004). The teaching profession in Europe: profile, trends and concerns. Report IV. Keeping teaching attractive for the 21st century. General lower secondary education. Brussels: Eurydice.
Verhoeven, J. C., Aelterman, A., Rots, I. and Buvens, I. (2006). Public perceptions of teachers’ status in Flanders. Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice, 12(4), 479–500.