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  • Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)

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Although most usually referring to one who teaches in a school, the title of ‘teacher’ also applies in a wider context to include professionals in other educational institutions, as well as those working outside such institutions who nevertheless have a pedagogical role, such as giving instruction in the playing of a musical instrument. ‘Teacher’, therefore, may be used in both a specific (referring to a profession) and a more general (referring to an activity) sense. There is a growing tendency to refer to professionals teaching in further education, too, as ‘teachers’—for example, in White Papers and in the professional standards for the sector—rather than as ‘lecturers’, by which title they were previously known; and the same trend is noticeable, although to a lesser extent, in the context of higher education. This development may reflect a growing recognition both that effective teaching may involve more than the ability to deliver a lecture, and that educational professionals in universities and colleges are usually required to demonstrate a wider range of teaching skills than the term ‘lecturer’, when taken literally, would suggest. Thus, ‘teacher’ may be taken to cover a range of more specific terms which, as well as ‘lecturer’, include ‘trainer’, ‘instructor’, and ‘tutor’.

Although, like most other professions, teaching requires a lengthy period of training and adherence to a professional code of conduct, many would argue that teachers are not normally accorded parity of status with other professions, such as the law and medicine. During the 1980s they were for a time subjected to what Stephen Ball (1990) refers to as a ‘discourse of derision’ when they appeared to be held culpable both by the popular press and in White Paper rhetoric for a number of national ills, including the high proportion of unskilled and unqualified school‐leavers, an under‐skilled workforce, and high levels of national unemployment. Nevertheless, well‐qualified and highly motivated individuals continue to enter the profession in large numbers, most acknowledging that it provides them with an opportunity to bring about positive change in learners' lives. See also newly qualified teacher; qualified teacher status.

Further Reading:

S. Ball Politics and Policy Making in Education (Routledge, 1990).

Subjects: Education — Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500).


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