Identity and naming; they are closely connected. How you name yourself says a lot about your identity. “Conan, the Barbarian”; “Marvel, the Daredevil”; “Dennis, the Menace”; they knew who they are. Children’s play is full of name giving: “I was the king and then you was my knight…” – stated in past tense as if identities are established already long before. Identity formation for each of us is a subtle process, taking time and careful consideration. As it happens (especially during adolescence) names are changed to express and launch new identity. We carefully guard our name as part of ourselves. Naming can also hurt – in bullying throwing names to someone is meant to demoralize Self.
So, how do we name our teachers? What is emblematic of the identity of teachers? Teachers have been identified by many names: The teacher as professional; the teacher as reflective practitioner, the teacher as educator; the teacher as social change agent; the teacher as a learner – these names are given to express the core of what teachers do. Intentional naming has an effect on how we view teachers and what they do. And what is more: this naming has a backwash effect on how teachers see themselves and perhaps act accordingly.
It can be important to deconstruct how we name teachers. The philosophical analysis of the cited article helps us to breakdown one of the popular images of teachers, i.e. teachers as professionals. The lucid argument being that metaphors both stress certain features as well as blurs other appearances of what teachers are. A critique can also safeguard against a too narrow interpretation of what teaching is.
Reflective thinking helps to decompose the obvious and to illuminate what is concealed. The “teacher as a professional” metaphor (1) has been taken for granted for a long time and popular especially among those taking a managerial view on education. One of the implicit assumptions being that it involves continuing professional development (i.e., proclaiming basic shortcomings in teachers).
It is then a good thing to know that teaching IS… much more than it seems
‘Teacher as Professional’ as Metaphor: What it Highlights and What it Hides by BRUCE MAXWELL
Journal of Philosophy of Education,Vol. 49, No. 1, 86-104. 2015
© 2014 The Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd,