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A Professional Teacher VS a Technicist

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While reading the chapter “What teachers need to learn?” from the book Teaching Teachers Process and Practices by Malderez & Wedell, I was stopped by the concepts of "professionals" and "technicists". The teachers were separated into two categories, teachers who teach as professionals and teachers who teach as technicians. A technicist is someone who executes someone else's plan (Malderez & Wedell, 2007). However, a “professional is a certified expert who is afforded prestige and autonomy in return for performing at a high level, which includes making complex and disinterested judgments under conditions of uncertainty” (Gardner, 2011).

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Although many teachers may be seeking professionalism, entering a classroom today you will find teachers performing as technicists or technicians. Teachers of this type can be compared to carpenters or builders in that they skillfully follow the instructions of designers or architects. They use a predetermined script of what and how should be taught. Unfortunately, in our situation here in KSA, I may be able to generalize that all teachers belong to this type. I know that most of the teachers are ambitious for professionalism but the educational rules and laws are enough to kill this ambition. In the Saudi context teachers are expected to fulfill the goals of the ministry and to stick to the list of instructions given to them leaving no chance for creativity. Obviously, they don’t need to be concerned about unique differences among individuals. They are also not required to engage in a complex decision making process utilizing their broad knowledge base and experience. The main concern for teachers as technicians is to teach to make their students pass tests. I can think of another reason that may make teachers to fall into this category, which is the shortage of materials and resources. Being a professional requires our schools to be equipped with resources and materials. Also, the journey towards professionalism requires teachers to be hard workers, the thing I believe that many of them are not ready for.

“Teaching as a professional is considered teaching with the knowledge to instruct students in whatever way is needed” (Baker-Doyle, 2009). We can compare teachers here to doctors or lawyers for their flexibility to look at each case from a unique viewpoint. Professional teachers see their work in the classroom as only a small, though significant, part of the professional role—a part of their responsibilities as educators. Teachers are not only trained to be intimately involved in the decision making processes that impact students’ learning, but also with curricular reforms, budget allocations, and the assessment of outcomes (Barrow, 2007). As Hargreaves maintains, in the era of post-professionalism educators should act more like public figures instead of focusing solely on the classroom (2000). In other words, the active involvement in the community is crucial. Of course, parents want the teachers of their children to behave like professionals as their doctors and lawyers. One would expect them to be actively and meaningfully involved in such current education reform. For example, in the recent curriculum change and development in our schools today, clearly, most of our teachers were not successful in their application. No doubt, they could not take any practical steps; they were waiting for instructions, for certain criteria they need to fulfill in their everyday teaching practice. I believe that if we had professional teachers, they would be able to tailor the curriculum to suit the needs of their situations.

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Developing professional teachers requires cooperation between both teacher-training programs and the ministries of education. Teacher-training programs should work to produce teachers who are able to think critically and who are armed with all the required information to work creatively. On the other hand, ministries of education should develop more flexible rules that offer the opportunity for teachers to be professionals. Of course, ministries are concerned with the uniformity of education but teachers must have a certain freedom in their teaching.

Teachers should strive to exercise the highest level of professionalism in their work.  Instructing as technicians educators can neglect the students who are not as fast as their peers, or who lack skills in test-taking. As Baker-Doyle points out, “each and every student has a gift, their gifts are just opened at different times” (2009). That is why a teacher should resemble a doctor or lawyer to be able to “diagnose” their students' abilities and anticipate their potential.  

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