Portraits of Labour: Teachers' Work in Situations of Inequality
Three questions framed the inquiry: I) What work do teachers' do? ii) How do teachers' perform their work? ii) What is the nature of teachers'work?
Two hundred teachers volunteered their participation in the study. Each teacher was shadowed for a day, followed by a semi- structured interview. Interviews were carefully transcribed and given back to participants for validation.
The findings revealed that the core work of teaching was displaced by emotional, social and psychological care work. The work was time- consuming, record-driven and assessment heavy. Teaching was interrupted by disruptions, disturbances and intrusions of various kinds. More time was spent on dealing with discipline and delinquency than on teaching.
The participants who worked in underprivileged schools took on the work that psychologists, social workers, school nurses and career and guidance counsellors should have done. The material conditions of the schools were debilitating for teachers. The work was intense, overwhelming, emotionally-charged and context- dependent.
It was apparent that attempts to undo the injustices of the past were paradoxical in nature.inequalities were intensified in poor schools and working there was unbearable for many teachers.