Is Teaching a Profession?

Topics: Teacher, Profession, Education Pages: 7 (2336 words) Published: October 6, 2007
"All professions have an identifiable knowledge base. Teaching has no such knowledge base, therefore, it is not a profession" Discuss this statement.

There are different characteristics of what a profession entails of. Some characteristics, such as full graduate training are based on the more known professional modes such as law, medicine and engineering. The majority of critics have agreed on the similar aspects of an occupational group acquiring: a knowledge base, expertise in their field, a sense of autonomy and responsibility which makes them a profession. In regards to teaching, it has sufficient evidence to produce these requirements which enables them to be recognised as a profession in society.

Professions are known to have the power to maintain society and to be capable of providing the necessary services for people who are unqualified to evaluate situations. To provide service to society, it requires knowledge. With any occupational group known as a profession, they must be able to have a knowledge base which contains technical language and specialised knowledge that is above the norm of people in society. This knowledge base would enhance the power and status of any profession within a society. A knowledge base comprises of having higher education training preferably from a degree level. Through this training, it contributes to a student's knowledge base by building on a subject of a specified field which in turn, would be able to apply this subject content intelligently when he/she becomes ‘professional' in their occupation. Different knowledge bases for different occupations depend on the content being taught in higher education and training. As the content and ideas of each subject are different according to the study being partaken, it shows that the knowledge is unique and is developed for a specific occupation. Another approach towards an occupation becoming a profession consists of a knowledge base through experiences of practical work. Individuals would learn while working as they will consider research for their projects or observe the problems occurring in the workplace. The development and understanding of this research and observation leads to further creation of a knowledge base in their occupation. The individual will become an expert in their field, hence being professional. With a profound knowledge base, an occupation who wishes to become a profession is then needed to use their knowledge to implement decisions, which is what's called autonomy. Autonomy, another characteristic of what makes up a profession is the permission to exercise power based on their specialised knowledge in their field. Lieberman (1956, p. 89) says that ‘professional autonomy refers to the scope of independent judgement reserved to professional workers because of their expert skill and knowledge'. With this sense of autonomy, an occupation which has the required expertise can utilise this power over other individuals who aren't credited to have an opinion about a particular field. For a professional to implement their power, they would have come to realise the responsibilities in making a decision. Based on their knowledge through study and training of the field, they are able to apply it to an individual or society's problems. This knowledge can come in the forms of personal knowledge, which is experienced events during other working periods or public knowledge made from professional education. To have authority is to have power, which professions want to acquire. If there are no individual decisions being used or permissible, there is no autonomy which will lead to no profession. There may be difficulties in which autonomy is hard to determine. For example, the determination of the amount of expertise is needed in a situation is needed to solve the problem. Occupations regarded as a profession have obtained a code of ethics which is used to protect professionals from their clients. These codes of ethics are...
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