Academic journal article Education

The Teacher's Stress and Its Implications for the School as an Organization: How Can Tqm Help?

Academic journal article Education

The Teacher's Stress and Its Implications for the School as an Organization: How Can Tqm Help?

Article excerpt


Maples (1980:23) states that each historical era is characterized by certain distinctly identifiable physical diseases. The Great Plague and leprosy predominated in the Middle Ages; syphilis and deficiency diseases, such as scurvy, during the Renaissance and opulence diseases, such as gout, during the Baroque era. Tuberculosis was prevalent in the eighteenth century (the era of Romanticism); whereas the nineteenth century was brought to its knees by diseases such as pox, diphtheria and enteric fever should not be taken tightly. Pelletier (1977:7) wrote that all diseases are of psychosomatic (stress related) origin. People's reaction to stress determines the quality of their lives, health and working ability.

As far as time and importance are concerned, work comprises a large part of people's lives. On the one hand, work has the potential to reward (psychologically and financially) and to damage on the other. Concerning the latter, the focus of this article is upon psychosomatic diseases caused by inordinate stress and how those diseases affect the school as organization. The educational manager in the school should take note of the effective aspect (positive or negative) of the teacher's profession. In this regard Greenberg (1969:20-21) remarks:

   Within the teacher's emotional life are the forces that most powerfully
   affect the entire teaching process. The human, emotional qualities of the
   teacher are the very heart of teaching. No matter how much emphasis is
   placed on such other qualities in teaching as educational technique,
   technology, equipment or buildings," `the humanity of the teacher is the
   vital ingredient if children are to learn.'"

This quotation emphasizes the importance of the affective or emotional qualities of the teacher (positive and negative) in the teaching profession. Consequently, the issue of stress in teaching is crucial, particularly in contemporary times where a considerable percentage of illnesses is attributed to excessive stress. All people are susceptible to stress at one time or another. Stress can usually be avoided or dealt with by means of specific mechanisms. Gray and Freeman (1987:144) maintain it is undeniable that good management techniques in the school are the best way to prevent stress in both learners and teachers. The author supports this view wholeheartedly.

In a new era, more than ever before, the school must give account of its financial administration. The search for quality is on the increase. Increasing emphasis is laid on the human aspect in organizations. Ideally more work should be done by fewer people. A new management paradigm, Total Quality Management (TQM), which stresses the use of human potential, has recently come to the fore in organizations worldwide and also in schools. American teachers are looking for new ways to solve school problems, such as socio-psychological distress (Fields, 1993:4). At the beginning of a new millennium, the issue of teacher stress is significant for the educational manager, because excessive stress may negatively affect the quality of the teacher's work. The stress of teachers has been widely discussed and written about and the devastating consequences of stress has been thoroughly documented in teacher journals.

What is stress?

Because of Selye's pioneering work in the study of stress, he is called "the father of stress." He distinguishes between eustress (pleasant stress) and distress (unpleasant stress) (Selye, 1976:74). Concerning eustress, Selye (1974:96) maintains that stress which finds its origins in successful activities, bring about a feeling of contentment and youthful vigour. As a matter of fact, (Selye (1974:85) even goes so far as to call stress "the spice of life". For instance, the teacher should encounter challenges to motivate him, such as putting effort in the preparation of lessons. Success, love and achievement are examples of pleasant stress. …

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