Academic journal article Education

A Study on Primary School Teacher Burnout Levels: The Northern Cyprus Case

Academic journal article Education

A Study on Primary School Teacher Burnout Levels: The Northern Cyprus Case

Article excerpt

An important phenomena of modern times, the term burnout was first coined in the 1970s in America to refer to the work-related depression that customer service workers experienced (Maslach, Schaufeli, Leiter; 2001:398). The concept was defined for the first time in 1974 by Herbert Freudenberger: "The exhaustion of inner resources as a result of failure, tiredness, energy and loss of power or unmet wishes" (Silig, 2003:10). The most commonly accepted definition of burnout is the three dimensional one by Maslach et al. (1986). According to this, burnout is a three dimensional term which includes the emotional exhaustion, apathy and decrease in personal success which is often seen in people who work face to face with others (Maslach and Jackson, 1986; Qtd. in Aksoy, 2007, 8). What is important here is that burnout is a continuous variable and that individuals should not be classified as all or nothing (Girgin and Baysal, 2005, 4). Studies have shown that burnout is an individual concept, contains a negative emotional experience and is based on a chronic uninterrupted emotion. It is different to a transient feeling of tiredness which disappears after a time. Possible to appear at different stages of work life, burnout has the characteristics of a continuous negative emotional reaction (Shirom, 1989; Qtd. in Vizli, 2005, 11). Burnout is a stress equation and an invasive process. It has been related to people's expectations and usually emerges as a result of a big mismatch between unrealistic expectations and real life (Tumkaya, 1996, 11). In professions with intense face to face human relations, such as the medical profession, teaching and management, burnout is more frequent due to the nature of the work (Schwab & Iwanicki, 1982; Qtd. in Vizli, 2005, 12). Teacher burnout is an example of a negative reaction against stressful instructional conditions, students, and lack of administrative support (Seidman and Zager, 1986-197; Qtd. in Tumkaya, 1996, 27). Farber (1984) maintains that burnout results from discipline problems, student apathy, crowded classrooms, compulsory appointments, role conflict and criticism of teachers (Qtd. in Altay, 2007, 33). The emergence and spread of teacher burnout may also result from the educational philosophy which changes in line with social, economic and technological developments. While educators were a strong element shaping educational decisions and supported by the society until 30-40 years ago, this started to change particularly from the mid-70s and the effect of educators decreased (Iwanicki, 1983; Qtd. in Gtinduz, 2005, 154). Personal variables that may cause burnout include the teacher's age, gender, marital status, education level, length of work, time spent in the last workplace (Johnson, Gold and Knepper, 1984; Qtd. in Aksoy, 2007, 20), experience, whether teaching is perceived as a rewarding job, and self perceptions about the effectiveness of one's teaching. Pines (1993) emphasized discipline problems, unmotivated and uninterested students, school management, bureaucracy, families and lack of resources as reasons of burnout (Qtd. in Cimen, 2007, 58). Researchers such as Brennink and Vanyperen added to these factors such as role ambiguity, not agreeing with decisions, lack of support and promotion opportunities, and attributed teacher burnout to three factors: student behavior, lack of resources (time pressure and so on) and unmet recognition needs (lack of promotion opportunities) (Brenninkmeijer and Vanyperen, 2001; Qtd. in Cimen, 2007, 58). Esteve (1990) treated teacher burnout from a different perspective by examining the primary and secondary factors leading to it. Primary factors include negative affect which directly affects the classroom teacher and lead to tension. These factors also include lack of tools, materials and good work conditions, aggression towards teachers in educational institutions, tiredness and the increase in the expectations from teachers. Secondary factors are the one that affect the educational environment. …

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