Educators should reclaim ownership of teaching standards to make social justice possible

Year: 2019

Author: Webster, R., Scott

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The professional teaching standards of Scotland has social justice as its very first element which is at the ‘heart’ of teaching in that country. These standards in Scotland encourage self-reflection amongst teachers to help them value the various elements found in the standards including social justice, and they require teachers to be familiar with multiple pedagogical theories. In contrast the Australian teaching standards do not include any references to social justice, nor to care, trust, democracy or even ‘education’. Ethics is only mentioned in terms of complying with codes of conduct and working in the area of ICT. The Australian teaching standards consist of competencies which focus upon teacher behaviours. Competencies are not necessarily restrictive if they include references to the holistic intentions of the profession (Hagar 1994) and are clearly connected to the conceptual thinking and intentions which are involved in their accomplishment (Barnett 1994). However, the Australian teaching standards do not engage with these sorts of intentions nor do they encourage the growth of teacher agency or judgment-making which are considered essential for valuing and enacting aspirations such as social justice and democracy.

The paper shall make the case that educators in Australia ought to reclaim professional teaching standards from government control. The argument shall build upon Biesta’s (2017) claim that teachers ought to ‘rediscover teaching’. Part of this argument shall highlight the importance of making ‘education’ central and not ‘teaching and learning’ which are currently central to the standards.This is because ‘teaching and learning’ tend to be merely technical affairs while ‘education’ is related to moral philosophy and political theory and is therefore much more applicable to the pursuit of social justice. The argument shall also identify that teacher agency is significantly important because it is central to both social justice and to democracy. Due to the current teaching standards omitting to include such elements, it will be claimed that these standards are actually an obstacle for the pursuit of social justice. Therefore, in order to make social justice possible, educators ought to reclaim ownership of the standards.