Conversations lead to thinking
For the long weekend we travelled south to Buckland and stayed at a quaint bed and breakfast. B&Bs are always interesting with regard to who you might meet and where that might lead. Due to the location of the B&B, dinner in was the most convenient option. As a result, we were able to meet with fellow travellers for that meal, as well as the following morning for breakfast. This allowed plenty of time for conversations to develop and connections to be made, beyond the superficial tourist chat regarding information about possible places to visit.
One of the guests was particularly interesting to me, from a professional and personal perspective. He had held lecturing roles in a range of universities, in Australia and overseas, in the area of education psychology and later moved into psychology relating to the area of human resources. Our conversations danced around a number of topics, but the one that I found most interesting focused on research he mentioned that identified the difference between public and private school educators. By now you are possibly starting to wonder where this may be heading, and I am sure you will be interested. He talked about public school educators being employed in a system that is large enough, that over time, they start to see themselves as just a cog in the broader workings of the system. This then has the potential to impact significantly on the way one views their ability to have opportunity to effect change at a school level. Private school educators feel more connected to their school and believe they have more purpose and value to their school. The significant difference is that although both work for a ‘system’, those working in the private system are directly employed by the school, where as, the public school educator is not employed by the school they are employed by the state or department of education. His perspective on this was to forget the system. Instead focus on doing your job well (what you are employed to do), which will provide opportunity for you to value your work and make an impact that you can be proud of, which will feed into your self worth.
I will spend some time later to search for related research, but for now this post is more about the thinking I am doing. When I start to work through this I can understand why we have teachers who may appear to some as less committed. And I have often heard younger teachers comment about older teachers not being as willing to do extra (and by extra I mean go above and beyond their work responsibilities). Maybe over time these younger teachers will also feel like the cog in the system? The concept of fault starts to whirl around in my head regarding this, is there an issue that needs to be addressed here? If so who responsible for it and how can it be fixed? I would strongly argue that it is a system issue, one that impacts on many including myself, and one that needs addressing. How does the system ensure that the individual is not lost within it, to the point where they develop a sense of pointlessness, worthlessness and helplessness in their position? I also question what other interesting issues arise if, at a school level in the public system, one has a very strong sense of connectedness to the school, like that of the private system. Is it possible that this will impact on the transfer policy? Does this make transfers highly problematic if a strong tie to the school is sought? For transfers between schools in the public education system to have minimal impact, do they rely on the teacher just being a cog in the larger system?
Is it ok to be just a cog in the larger system? It makes me feel more like a factory worker than someone who studied for 4 years to gain an education degree, then continued further study to gain a Grad Cert and an MEd. As a cog my opinion and voice are better not expressed. Is this ok?
Maybe, with 15 years to go before retirement, it is better that I resign to the cog in the larger system and focus on what I am paid to do and just do that?
Maybe this (my blog) is the only place I can put a ‘spanner ‘ (have a voice that may effect some change) in the works?
Maybe it is time to consider moving to the private system?