One of Ireland’s leading educationalists Professor Tom Collins posed the question; ‘Why are so many teachers unhappy’ when speaking at the launch of a highly acclaimed publication at LIT-Thurles recently. The publication arising from a doctoral study by LIT lecturer Dr. Michael Ryan, is an investigation into the professional lives of second level teachers in Ireland.
The book entitled: The Teaching Triangle: Pedagogy, Professionalism and Vocationalism was highly commended by Professor Tom Collins (Education Policy Analyst) and Professor Sarah Moore (Chairperson of the National Forum for Teaching and Learning), for the rigorous manner in which it explored educational practice at second level in Ireland.
Among the themes highlighted in the book, is the ‘backwash effect’ of the points system on teaching and learning. Teachers interviewed for the study, described teaching and learning as an increasingly intense process of rote learning, where time for critical thinking is largely absent. Teachers also report that the teacher-student relationship dimension is being squeezed in time-pressured classrooms, where covering content is paramount. The pressure on teachers to deliver results is sometimes oppressive in school climates where: league tables, school accountability regimes, parental expectations and grind schools may be compromising the development of the whole person. Professor Collins and the author Dr. Michael Ryan both positioned this ‘market driven’ approach as an unrelenting and negative influence within the educational process.
On a more positive note however, the study also highlighted the resilience of many teachers who remain committed to: extra-curricular activity, ongoing professional development and courageous engagement with the vocational dimension of the teacher’s role. Professor Sarah Moore described the publication as “truly inspirational and a significant study for policy makers in Irish education.”
The publication also referenced the changing nature of teacher professionalism in Ireland since the 1990s and the challenges of motivating large and diverse groups of teenagers in increasingly complex youth cultures. The influence of social media, mental health issues and disengagement from traditional family cultures, are significant factors. The publication also reports that some teachers have lost confidence in the capacity of Teacher Unions or the media to accurately represent the teaching profession or engage the public in a meaningful dialogue about education.
The book launch was part of an LIT event within the Department of Applied Social Sciences, where The Engage Research group was also launched. This new research group aims to engage with the policy-practice domain of: education, youth-work and community development. The event was expertly facilitated by Ms. Cathy Jones Head of Department and was attended by members of the educational research community, lecturing staff, students from LIT and friends and family of the author.
The book Pedagogy, Professionalism and Vocationalism can be purchased online from global academic publisher Morebooks, or at Bookwork Thurles, or by contacting the author directly at firstname.lastname@example.org