Being a Teacher: Professional Challenges and Choices

Adendorff, M. (Mike) ; Mason, M. (Mark) ; Modiba, M. (Maropeng)

Learning Object

Teachers are not just teachers. They are also people. In straddling issues of both professional and personal identity, this module comes to grips with the professional choices teachers are required to make, and do make, in developing the knowledge, skills and values of learners. This module is suitable for both inducting novice teachers into the role of the teacher and for in-service programmes in which practising teachers could valuably compare their own experiences with this systematic overview of the role of a teacher and teaching as a profession. The contextual setting in South Africa is readily adaptable to other settings: the core issues are the same. Learning guide The different sections in this module present a coherent progression. However, the seven sections are downloadable as individual units. 1. Section One: Introducing the module This section argues the case for studying what ‘being a teacher’ means in relation to national needs and those of individual learners, and explains how the writers intended the module to be tackled. 2. Section Two: Being a teacher in South Africa This section is not as strongly rooted in South Africa as its title suggests. It addresses the basic question of what it means to be a teacher in a broader social setting. 3. Section Three: Teaching as a profession The meaning and implications of teachers’ professional responsibilities are developed and extended through comparison with other professions. 4. Section Four: The teacher’s authority: sustaining an effective learning environment The issue of an orderly learning environment (involving rules, discipline and punishment) is explored in relation to broader issues of individual rights and freedom in a democracy. 5. Section Five: The teacher as knowledge-worker Should teachers be imparting content knowledge or playing the role of a facilitator in a more learner-centred approach? This fundamental question – which may not have an either / or answer – links well the module ‘Learners and Learning’. 6. Section Six: Teachers, values and society Nothing in teaching is free of social dimensions and value questions. Teaching can therefore not be ‘neutral’, and teachers cannot sidestep the issue of their role in relation to sets of values. This section explores the role of the teacher in exercising and encouraging particular values. 7. Section Seven: Making a difference What essential qualities do teachers (and schools) need in order to ‘make a difference’? This section provides a platform for teacher agency and reflective practice.

Published by:

South African Institute for Distance Education

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