Becoming a Teacher: Issues in Secondary Teaching

By Justin Dillon; Meg Maguire | Go to book overview

2 On being a teacher

Chris Winch


Introduction

This chapter will try to answer the question 'When you become a teacher, what exactly is it that you become?' The issue of occupational identity has always worried teachers, as it is bound up with their standing with the public, with other professions and with the state and politicians. It is a question endlessly chewed over by academics who have come up with various accounts of what it is to be a teacher. All of these accounts contain some problems. In this chapter I will review the various possibilities and then take a look at what the government thinks of the issue, sketching out some possibilities for the future development of teachers' occupational identity.


A brief historical survey

In the period from the 1960s until 1988, teachers enjoyed a historically unprecedented degree of autonomy within the educational system. This was particularly true of primary teachers, as we shall shortly see. However, this was not always the case; in particular, the Revised Code of Inspection that existed from the 1860s until 1898 provided for the regular inspection of teachers with a view to determining their pay scales according to the results of a test conducted by one of Her Majesty's Inspectors. The work of teachers was, therefore, under scrutiny from headteachers and government officials and there was little room for professional independence or initiative. The Revised Code 'payment by results' system testifies to the lowly status and low trust accorded to teachers at this period and echoes

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