When teachers talk about themselves as professionals two related, but at bottom different, ideas are involved, The first is that of a skilled performance, a practical competence within a sector of activity, underpinned by theory, but essentially the outcome of study, formation, and a lengthy period of immersion in a "technik" : classroom teaching and all that goes with it, including all relevant aspects of belonging as a full practicing member to a school or college, The second idea is that of professional status, This is an aspiration or a claim, to some extent realised, to enjoy certain privileges, social esteem, a level of salary, a style of relating to other people who are seen as clients, not customers, together with a degree of autonomy in the workplace, At the level of public rhetoric about pay, conditions of service and comparabilities, discourse moves easily between these two ideas, slipping rather than arguing from one to the other. But in the real world social, economic and political conditions see to it that they are kept separate, save for the lucky few, those "free" professionals such as successful surgeons with large private practices or eminent barristers. For example, when we talk about professional training for teachers we are usually referring to an arranged set of experiences by which people are prepared to embark on a career which will lead to a degree of maturity in the skilled performances and the sorts of Self-presentations and commitments that go with them, These come only after a quite prolonged practical experience, a matter of years rather than weeks, Training, however, involves the conferring of credentials which give a licence to practice (not necessarily a certificate of competence) and entry to an occupational group, These entry gates have been steadily narrowed over the decades, and sharply so in the U.K, since teachers have been in surplus, Because professionalism as skill has been officially credentialised and entry requirements raised it is difficult to talk about it without overtones of professional status lurking about in the language.
Professionalism and Professional Status: Contrasting Aspects of the Teacher Role.
Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 10(2).