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Teaching a job or a profession?

Christine Challen

“ Teaching is the one profession that creates all other professions”

According to Nelson Mandela “Education is the most powerful weapon which we can use to change the world” and Popik states “teaching is the one profession that creates all other professions”. However over the years and particularly recently it is hard not to question whether Governments have really read and understood these powerful quotes. Additionally are they truly thinking about the long term impact education plays in “social justice” and empowering communities, families and generations of children as a way of building a better world?

I often wonder if the government really want education or whether they view it as a threat enabling people to question, challenge theories, ideas and even governments!

So armed with these facts you would think that we as teachers or practitioners would not have to justify being thought of as professionals and more importantly debate the necessity to consistently use “real” research based evidence in our practice. However evidence in media/social media and literature suggests otherwise. This blog will look at the important factors to support teaching as a research led profession.

“ Teaching is the one profession that creates all other professions” and “Education is the most powerful weapon which we can use to change the world” then these clearly suggest that teaching at all levels is a scholarly profession. In addition that it is this that lays the foundation to create our future doctors, lawyers, dentists all considered professions yet the core basic foundation teaching is not.

Why is this so hard to grasp?

We are all aware of reflection in all areas of employment but nowhere is it more central and pivotal to excellence and progression as in teaching. Reflection is a difficult one to implement or encourage as some practitioners like myself are guilty of to much others find it hard. However the very act of reflection implies questioning and self critical analysis, which subsequently leads to further reading researching ways and methods to update practice with the proviso that the “latest trend” may not necessarily work with our students or subject.

So the key question is how do we change the overall view of teaching firstly as a profession and more importantly a research-led profession?

Start believing and implementing the view that teaching is the foundation of all other professions. We have no problem viewing medicine science, law as professions why not teaching!

Give teachers much more autonomy to decide the real educational issues and how we proceed as well as  enabling them to take charge of their own CPD and future destiny.  

Financially reward them not for performance but for the huge impact and responsibility they have for their students, society, communities and ultimately future professions. How many times have we heard of teachers who cannot afford mortgages on their pitiful salaries and how many take mountains of work home unpaid again if they were paid as professionals then maybe this would also encourage us all to think of them as exactly that

How can we support teaching a research-led profession?

There have been suggestions including extra bursaries (McShane, 2016) lengthening the time of the PGCE qualification as well as insisting on a further Masters qualification (Lofthouse, 2016) before employment as a teacher. Other ideas making more time for research-led activities as part of term time teaching, encouraging graduates to write development fellowship grants and including more research focussed CPD. All great strategies, however while a number of teachers try to squeeze in CPD at weekends and any time they can this is not ideal! Budgets are so stretched that cover for teachers to go to CPD is seen as a luxury rather than a professional necessity!

ensure that staff are treated and more importantly trusted  and respected as autonomous professionals who reflect, question and research

In order to progress and accept teaching as an exceptional and essential reflection/research-led profession, governments and institutions need to freshen the slate and ensure that staff are treated and more importantly trusted and respected as autonomous professionals who reflect, question and research, driving their teaching and practice and also initiating their own destiny!

This will automatically drive excellence in teaching and learning and ultimately enhance performance without the need for using money as the incentive.



Challen,C (2016) Training and/or learning and development which is key for quality in teaching {accessed 05/11/16}

Popik, B (2016) {accessed 05/11/16}

McGregor, K (2015) Nelson Mandela as an exemplar of life-long learning {accessed 05/11/16}

McShane, Jo (2016) Out of Step? Reflections on the changing role of Universities in ITE since 2010 {accessed 08/11/16}