In what ways can critical theory shed light on professionalism? This presentation explores how critical theory can provide a perspective for critiquing professionalism in education. In so doing the nature of the relationship between the professionalisation and social movement trends in education is addressed. An attempt at a definition of professionalism is going to be the focus of the first part of the presentation. Several concepts articulated within critical theory are discussed for their relevance to the issue of professionalism. The work of the Frankfurt School is underlined, drawing parallels to the work of Gramsci and Freire. In the final analysis, specific issues and questions raised by the perspective of Critical Theory are reflected upon as they apply to the professionalisation of education. The concept of professionalism
Literature on professionalism is in its abundance. There have been many attempts at providing a clear definition, including the government-led agendas calling for higher degrees on professionalism in education. It can be noted at the outset that attempts at coming up with a definition of professionalism in education have struggled to agree on a particular one. Freidson (1994) has concluded that the use of the term professionalism is inconsistent. He argues that professionalism is ‘The Third Logic’, claiming that professions are occupational groupings that exercise relatively high degrees of control over the conditions as well as how they carry out their work. This kind of arrangement provides a mechanism for organising some aspects of social life in a way that properly deploys specialist knowledge. Professionalism is therefore viewed as a mode of social coordination and competes with, and provides some insulation from, both market and bureaucratic forms of organisation. It has also been viewed as “a state of mind” or ideology that reflects a way of thinking about the cognitive aspects of a profession and the characteristics that...
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