Year: 1990

Author: Smith, Max, Bourke, Sid

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Stress is often accepted as an inescapable aspect of teaching. Teachers are willing to describe how their personal and professional lives are affected by work-related stress; it seems that all suffer to some extent and in the worst cases teachers fear they will be forced to leave the profession to escape the impact of teaching stress on their lives. The concern is justified by findings which show that teacher work-related stress is linked with physical ill-health (e.g. Otto, 1986), mental ill-health (e.g. Fletcher & Payne, 1982; Finlay-Jones, 1986), and reduced teacher commitment and effectiveness (e.g. Blase, 1984). Considerable research has indicated that the sources of teacher stress are not clear cut. Kyriacou (1987, p.148-149), lists relationships with colleagues, conditions of work, pupil misconduct, salary, status and role conflict as major sources of stress but cautions that other factors have been found to be significant as well. The relative importance of such variables differs greatly for individuals and for whole staffs. Further he reports that differences due to characteristics such as sex, age, teaching experience and post held are also prone to cause inconsistent findings. What is clear is that biographical variables may have an important role in moderating the relationships between other variables. This paper concentrates on these and other contextual variables in an effort to demonstrate more clearly cause and effect in relationships described by other researchers.