Understanding teacher identity in the 21st century

How national policies and cultural factors influence the development of teachers’ professional identities is the subject of a new set of studies commissioned by Education International – an eye-opener for educators and policy makers alike.

How national policies and cultural factors influence the development of teachers’ professional identities is the subject of a new set of studies commissioned by Education International – an eye-opener for educators and policy makers alike.

The Centre for the Use of Research and Evidence in Education (CUREE) and Education International (EI) are developing a new set of studies that focus on teacher supportive measures, teacher well-being and the interplay of different actors when it comes to policy making in education.

Results from Scotland

The first country survey highlights available refer to Scotland, with data about what teachers value about education, where the limits are to their autonomy and what their most important teaching aims are. Interestingly enough, ensuring success in formal examinations is the least important of their aims, while promoting students’ enjoyment in education is the first according to the study’s results.

While wishing to engage in life-long professional learning, most teachers regret the lack of opportunities to do so. And very few feel empowered or listened to when it comes to contributing to national decisions on education (15 percent).

Time constraints and workload being dictated to them from a higher level seem to be the most common problems faced by the Scottish educators: “I get told what to do with very little regard to my opinion or experience”, regrets a primary classroom teacher who answered the survey.

On top of this, a striking 78 percent of teachers do not feel they are able to have a good work-life balance. 

Next steps

The project will analyse the data available from the six other countries (Germany, Kenya, Canada, Sweden, Chile and  Singapore) and bind them in a publication that will make up part of the study. As the Scottish research highlights show, educators, their organisations and policy makers will be able to access a new set of ground-breaking data that will be useful when defining policy measures.

"It is very exciting to be working on how different countries construct teachers’ professional identities. We think this picture from our work with colleagues from EIS (The Educational Institute of Scotland) who have been willing to act as pioneers in Scotland illustrates how the research can hold up a constructive mirror for the profession within individual countries. The forthcoming portraits from another six countries, taken together, will build a bigger picture to help teachers’ professional associations and governments learn from each other internationally," said CUREE head of research, Philippa Cordingley.

You can find the survey report here, and the first of the country profiles - Ontario, Scotland and Sweden.

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