Professionalism and secondary teachers in New Zealand : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Education at Massey University

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Massey University
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From the economic and social standpoint a country's educational system is its main means both of perpetuating the values and skills of its population and preparing it for the changes which progress requires". (Phillips 1964) One of the mainstays of a country's educational system is its teachers and therefore much of the responsibility for the future welfare of a society rests on their shoulders. From such a basis this study attempts to examine a group of teachers from a segment of New Zealand's teaching force with the aim of contributing to a more empirically based analysis of secondary teachers in this country. As this Investigation is concerned with teachers in their occupational roles, rather than with teaching, the concept of professionalism is used as the main structuring element in the research. An attempt is made to justify the basic premise that all teachers should be professionally orientated. Such an orientation is conceived as having three basic elements; technical competence, autonomy and service ideal. A professional teacher is seen as one who has a feeling of expertise in his occupational role (competence); wants the freedom to do the job the way he thinks it ought to be done (autonomy); and considers his basic loyalty to be to his pupils rather than the institution (service). An index of professionalism is calculated for each respondent on the basis of the answers to items in a composite question-set (see question 33, Appendix). The sample comprised one hundred and eighty-six teachers from ten schools situated in and around a light industrial and servicing centre in the lower half of the North Island. This number represented a response rate of just over fifty percent. Responses were coded on to I.B.M. cards for analysis, and calculation of statistical significance (using chi-square) was done by computer. The more specific purpose of the research is to examine some of the possible background correlates of a professional role perception in teaching by investigating the relationship between professionalism and sex-role, socio-economic background, advanced training and occupational position. A further intention is to see what possible consequence professionalism has on other elements of the teaching situation by looking for relationships between it and teaching style, extra-curricular activities, perceptions of aims of education, external examinations, emphasis in education, teacher satisfaction and participation in professional associations. Much of the value of this research is in terms of the lack of significant findings, pointing to one or all of the following:- (i) the methodical inadequacies in the operationalisation of the concept of professionalism; (ii) the inappropriateness of the concept for teaching; (iii) the distinction which must be made between a professional role perception and professional behaviour. However some significant findings do emerge in relation to sex-role and marital status, emphases in teaching style, emphases in other elements of education, outside examinations, interest and activity in the Post Primary Teachers' Association and satisfaction in teaching. Most of these results are consistent with the concept of a professional role orientation (especially the service element), but some point to the disparity between a professional orientation and professional behaviour. Although only limited generalisations can be drawn from the data, this study has value in that it begins research in an area of New Zealand education so far little investigated.
New Zealand High school teachers, Professional ethics, Freedom of teaching