Images of Educational Change

By Herbert Altrichter; John Elliott | Go to book overview

13
Teacher control and the reform of
professional development

LAWRENCE INGVARSON

This chapter presents a personal perspective on changes in professional development policy in Australia over the past 25 years. The point of departure is taken from the 1973 Karmel Report, Schools in Australia (Interim Committee for the Australian Schools Commission 1973). The report, prepared for the incoming Labor government (the first since 1949), had a profound influence on Australian education. The Karmel Committee had been given a wide brief that foreshadowed a more active role for the commonwealth government in school education generally, traditionally a state responsibility. With respect to professional development, however, the report argued strongly that the teaching profession itself should exercise greater control, relative to employers and universities:

A mark of a highly skilled occupation is that those entering it should
have reached a level of preparation in accordance with standards set by
the practitioners themselves, and that the continuing development of mem-
bers should largely be the responsibility of the profession. In such circumstances
the occupational group itself becomes the point of reference for standards and thus
the source of prestige or of condemnation
. There are circumstances that make
teaching a particular case since the administrative hierarchy within
which most teachers work is recruited largely from outstanding prac-
titioners. However, in Australia teachers as an occupational group have
had few opportunities to participate in decision making. Their organis-
ations have been traditionally more concerned with industrial matters,
including those which affect the quality of services offered, than with
the development of expertise, which has been seen as primarily the
responsibility of the employer.

(Karmel Report: 123; italics added)

-159-

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