This started as a long blog post (staying in draft) following the staff dress code discussion on Twitter.
It got me thinking about how many times I’ve seen teachers & leaders in social media use comparisons with other professions to try and justify why teachers/education should do something in a certain way. A couple to easily recall:
- Qualified teacher status – teachers being compared to surgeons “you wouldn’t want an unqualified surgeon to operate on you”
- Dress code – Lawyers compared to teachers “we expect lawyers to dress professionally so, so should we”
I’m sure there are more.
The problem is that these comparisons are hugely flawed. The initial post outlined these flaws but I’m guessing most already know what they are.
So why do we use these comparisons?
I think the Government and the media between them can paint such a negative picture of teachers and education that we feel the need to compare ourselves with ‘respected’ professions in order to justify being classed as a profession.
I also don’t think it helps when the media gives a voice to some parents who complain about the minutiae of schools when we are actually all trying to do our best within a professional environment. Sometimes the power that social media and local media have, has the power to undermine the status of teachers and a school very quickly.
But do we need to spend time justifying our professionalism? Surely we’re spending time thinking of great comparisons with other professionals instead of setting out why teaching is a respected profession and a unique one at that? We shouldn’t need to make these comparisons. In fact, should we need to justify our professionalism at all?
I hope the College of Teaching may go some way in ensuring that instead of using these false comparisons we can define ourselves in terms of quality of teaching, research and practice, rather than in the terms of other professions that may have little to do with the day-to-day requirements of the teaching profession.