Academic journal article American Annals of the Deaf

Professionalism and Coordination: Allies or Enemies?

Academic journal article American Annals of the Deaf

Professionalism and Coordination: Allies or Enemies?

Article excerpt

PROFESSIONALISM arose concurrently with coordination policies among service providers and between parents and service providers in deaf education practices. The author examines the effects of professionalism on coordination among service providers from different disciplines (deaf education, speech-language pathology, elementary education, secondary education, audiology, otolaryngology, and pediatrics), as well as coordination between parents and these service providers in multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary, and transdisciplinary teams in the light of her own experience as a teacher of children who are deaf and hard of hearing in Cyprus. The author concludes that professionalism and coordination can coexist, and that the key issue in this relationship is the personal attitudes of those involved.

The discussion around the professional work of teachers was once high on the education agenda, particularly in the 1990s (Hargreaves & Goodson, 1996). Nevertheless, the terms professionalism, professionals, and professional work still surface in many discussions due to the growing public interest in teaching and in improved schooling (Clarke, 2000; Goodlad & McMannon, 1997).

Even though a number of definitions have been applied to professionalism, professionals, and professional work (Driscoll, 1998; Eraut, 1995; Hargreaves & Goodson, 1996), in the present article I use the definition proposed by Skrtic (1991), according to which professional work is "complex work for which the required knowledge and skills have been codified" (p. 87).

A common professional identity has as a prerequisite some common characteristics. The first is the acquisition of specialized, standardized, and scientific knowledge and expertise that is transmitted both through professional education programs and continuous in-service professional development journals (Dale, 1996; Driscoll, 1998; McCollum, 2000; Skrtic, 1991). Another characteristic is professional licensure and membership in professional organizations that observe a set of bylaws and a code of ethics (Dale, 1996; Skrtic, 1991). The last such characteristic is the discretion and autonomy to exercise professional judgment in particular circumstances that other social groups do KASSINI IS A TEACHER OF THE DEAF, MINISTRY OF EDUCATION AND CULTURE, NICOSIA, CYPRUS.

not have (Skrtic, 1991). Indeed, for Skrtic, this is the ultimate criterion of professionalism. This professional autonomy is based on theoretical, applied, and practical knowledge, which in turn is based on a positivist epistemology of knowledge and objectivity

Professionalism has a series of implications for researchers, policymakers, and service providers, as well as for parents. For researchers, it is interpreted to mean developing scientific strategies and organizing better preservice training programs. For policymakers, it means incorporating scientific strategies into a reform plan. For service providers, it means gaining professional competence and professional status. Lastly, for parents, their understanding of professionalism translates into a sense of trust and security toward service providers and their practices (Hargreaves & Goodson, 1996).

In the present article, I discuss professionalism and its relationship to deaf education practices. More particularly I look at the effects of coordination among service providers from different disciplines - that is, deaf education, speech-language pathology, elementary education, secondary education, audiology, otolaryngology, and pediatrics (Kassini, 2005), and the coordination between parents and these service providers in regard to professionalism.

Coordination in Deaf Education

In recent decades, certain characteristics of service provision have accentuated that special education in general and deaf education in particular are human activities that require a division of labor between parents and service providers from a range of disciplines, and their coordination in accomplishing a task (Kassini, 2005, 2006; Skrtic, Sailor, & Gee, 1996). …

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