Anyone can call her- or himself a ‘teacher’, ‘trainer’, ‘educator’, ‘mentor’. Profession labels in education are not protected or safeguarded. Admission to the profession is still regulated by having a proper diploma or certificate, completed by a hiring procedure of an institution having an open position. But this is changing. A call for gatekeeping the profession (1) has been made in professions adjacent to education. Again the health professions set the example. To be admitted as counselor, or therapist gatekeeping is set in place. Entry to the profession becomes a careful profession based (not program based) monitoring process of evaluating personal and professional qualities of applicants. Assessing professional readiness in addition to an academic diploma is favored for remediation and development purposes to prevent potential misconduct in the profession later on.
A strong plea for setting up gatekeeping procedures is to be found in the referred article. The authors state that “failing to do so could result in global consequences for the profession”. (p. 29). Of course, admission and gatekeeping procedures are there for the benefit of good practice.
Gatekeeping the profession is here to stay; it seems inevitable. The ‘Thatcherism” inspired management turn (2) made professions and professionals painfully aware that autonomy comes with a price (i.e, installing accountability measures to control service rendered). Decisions on entry to the profession, certainly, need assurance (meaning: standards, requirements and procedures). But what if turns back on you and starts to function as an impediment? Consider the possibility of a β error (i.e., the incorrect dismissal of a positive instance); that is, not selecting a talented applicant to the profession. Most entry procedures once set in place are not scrutinized or critically examined afterwards anymore. They become ‘norm’-al acting as inert, uncontested bodies with a conserving impact. It becomes increasingly hard to question them. However, from time to time one needs to ask “are you sure you are not keeping out who should be in?
The Gatekeeping Imperative in Counselor Education Admission Protocols: The Criticality of Personal Qualities. By Ann M. McCaughan & Nicole R. Hill. © Springer Science+Business Media, New York 2014.
Published online: International Journal for the Advancement of Counselling, 2015 37:28–40.
Link: www. DOI 10.1007/s10447-014-9223-2
Referencing the issue
Life is full of risks. The sky may fall one your head; your car swallowed by a sinkhole. There is even the risk of not taking the risk (in finding your fortune, or happiness in life). Some people avoid risk, some seek the thrill of it. There are therapeutic programs to help you deal with risk (1) and economic calculations to manage risks (4). Nevertheless, risk is what we can not control; a boiling mix of fear, fate, and unlikely occurrences. Fact is you have to life with it. Teachers too (3). Now, most of us would contend that teaching is not a very risky profession or rooted in uncertainties. Classroom life has its regularities and its (more or less) planned flow of activity. Could it be then that persons who like to avoid risks in their lives have to some extent a fascination for the profession? This issue was studied, from an economic perspective.
The study compared prospective teachers and economics students using a standard lottery task and looked at their risk preferences. It turned out that the future teachers were risk averse. The authors interpret their findings by saying that “policy makers should take into account teacher risk characteristics when considering reforms that may clash with risk preferences”
Now, two strange leaps occur in this study. First, and you do not have to be a statistician to notice, it may have been that another element was involved. For instance by observing that the group of teacher candidates was composed of females (75%) and the comparison group had 62% males. Could this have been an alternative interpretation for risk preference? Secondly, and more importantly, the study seems to suggest that policy makers should bear in mind that education reforms should not be too risky for teachers. Or, even worse, that teachers may obstruct reform because they feel it is too hazardous for them. The ultimate consequence might be: no risky reforms in education. Truly, a risky advice (2) .
Daniel H. Bowen, Stuart Buck, Cary Deck, Jonathan N. Mills & James V. Shuls (2015) Risky business: an analysis of teacher risk preferences, Education Economics, 23:4, 470-480,
To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09645292.2014.966062
Receiving an award, getting a scholarship on the work you did, that is rewarding. Granted, not many times this happens but when it does it boosts your self-confidence and adds to your career. For a professionals’ personal satisfaction these rare moments of laudation strengthen ties with work and work environment. Who does not want to win a price well deserved? May be for that reason the trend of giving out awards is spreading (1). At the New Year receptions, on evenings at professional conferences, and at specially organized organization meetings you have them: Best awards for… No disdain here, it is important to be able to celebrate, in a community, as colleagues working together. Recognition of outstanding performance is the underlying reason to award – the goose that lays a golden egg, will make the organization richer, according to the fairy tale.
But does it work that way? The cited study provides an in-depth look on how teacher recipients and educational leadership view award winning in school organizations. The stakeholders have quite different goals in mind. Leaders want it for raising output ratings; teachers for improving student learning. All in all they hold awards in a positive way but not extremely. What stands out for all concerned is the innovative trigger an award provides. Excellent performance, embedded in new ideas and outstanding teaching, sets a higher standard.
The thing is: does award-giving lead to higher levels performance that will spread beyond the lauded winner of the award? An egg is for hatching. The study in this case reported that “Over half have presented their work in peer-reviewed venues”. It is a start. But also a meager result. What if we would consider Laying Golden Eggs not to be a back-end issue, i.e., a closure, but better view it as a front-end problem, i.e., a beginning? In this case, laying golden egg is not a rare and exceptional accomplishment but something to breed, nurture, and multiply. In education practice, there are many exemplary enactments to be found (2) that invite to follow, care for, and reproduce. Searching for golden eggs is not just a thing to do at Easter, i.e., special occasions, but an activity for teachers and educational leaders to go for all the time.
Laurel Willingham-McLain (2015). Using a scholarship of teaching and learning approach to award faculty who innovate, International Journal for Academic Development, 20:1,58-75,
To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1360144X.2014.995661
Good news… Teachers are not dumb or slow to understand. Those entering the profession are not the ones occupying the lowest quartiles of Achievement Tests. This sounds good news for education. We hear it too often in social talk: “Those who can do, those who can’t, teach” (Quote attributed to George Bernard Shaw in 1903). But there is another viewpoint. Tertullian, a 3th century Christian rhetoric teacher living in Carthage addressed St Augustine (1), saying he envied him for his ideas, thinking, and wisdom. And Augustine answered him, saying: But you know how to put it in the minds of students. Being a teacher has its own characteristics and it is important that those entering the profession are selected on what matters to teaching.
The positive news comes from a large study conducted in Germany. It was found that teacher candidates were not any different with respect to ability or achievement from other students but they did differ in their interest in education and schooling.
Attracting talent to the profession is primarily ruled by motives, not money (2). Prospective teaching professionals apparently select a career based on its value, and how it is being valued (by society), not just the revenues. It seems safe to say that when we value teachers and teaching for being of high quality we will be able to attract and retain young professionals who want to address the minds of pupils.
Who becomes a teacher? Challenging the “negative selection” hypothesis* By Janina Roloff Henoch, Uta Klusmann, Oliver Lüdtke, & Ulrich Trautwein
Learning and Instruction 36 (2015) 46-56; © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.