Three Dimensions of Professionalism

In fairy tales, threes are powerful.  Three wishes, three bears, three guardians of the dark…these are narratives that form part of human mythology, the stories by which people have navigated their lives since time immemorial.

imagesAs with the Twelve Dancing Princesses*, fairy tales help us break out of repressed thinking and look at old concepts in new ways.  So it is with the professionalism of teachers.  All over the UK right now, educators on Cert Ed/PGCE programmes will be writing essays about professionalism; drawing on the same old canon**, failing to find any common ground between what they are writing and what they are actually experiencing.

What’s it like to be in a profession, that people popularly don’t know exists?  Meeting someone for the first time, isn’t the assumption always that you teach kids in schools? I’ve been a community development worker (“Eh?”) and a public health professional (*hides glass of wine*) so I know all about that sense of being a professional impostor.

So it’s time for us to claim it back.  No matter who you read on professionalism, you’ll bang up against the word ‘autonomy’ at some point, so let’s repossess that and redefine our own professionalism, for ourselves***.  Here are some new definitions, as a starter for three.

Democratic Professionalism – Educators who are committed to working critically and collaboratively to maintain the integrity of the profession.

Dialogic Professionalism – Educators who open up new dialogic spaces in which to meet students as equal critical thinkers.

Digital Professionalism – Educators who navigate and exploit the affordances of the digital age, to enhance critical education.

imgresTeaching is leadership, teaching is research, teaching is social responsibility.  Over the next few days, in January 2016, free-thinking, independently minded educators are going to be mulling over these new dimensions of their professional responsibility.  We’ll then open up the debate to our communities of praxis, to figure out what all of this means.  Join us on social media, using the hashtag #FEITE



*Daley, M., Orr, K. and Petrie, J. (2015).  Further Education and the Twelve Dancing Princesses.  London.  Trentham Books.

**Plenty of #whitecurriculum in the recommended reading for teacher ed, still.

***Like the sound of that?  Join Tutor Voices



Author: TeachNorthern

We are hard working educators with passionate interest in Teaching for a Social Purpose. Everything we've learned is through observing colleagues and students, all of whom are committed to changing the world. And reading interesting stuff. We work at The Northern College in Barnsley and its mission (and thirty-eight year history) of social transformation makes it an ideal base to face the challenges of teaching adults in 21st century England.

3 thoughts on “Three Dimensions of Professionalism”

  1. The things I write in my assignments are mostly not about what I’m experiencing in my teaching practice, but more a long the lines of writing what I think the ‘marker’s’ need to see! Most people assume that I’m training to teach kids, ouch, no way. Having read your definitions, redefining our professionalism for ourselves, has given me the encouragment to write about my ‘real life’ experiences.

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