Transformation of the Professionalism of Vocational Teachers: Social Context and Agency of Teachers

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 17:30
Oral Presentation
Meril UMARIK, Tallinn University, Estonia
Krista LOOGMA, Tallinn University, Estonia
Maret AASA, Tallinn University, Estonia
The paper focus on (re-)conceptualizing the professionalism of vocational teachers. Freidson (2001) regarded professionalism as the “third logic” in contrast of that of the market or organization. Social changes and global trends (such as neo-liberalization, increasing migration etc.) have involved changes in operation of professional groups and professionalization of non-traditional occupations. Estonian case enables to analyze how the multilevel context factors, such as radical societal changes and reforms, have involved changes in work and professionalization of vocational teachers as occupational group.

In Estonia, only as recently as in 1995 the role of vocational teachers was introduced and qualification requirements were set for vocational teachers. During the recent years, the work of vocational teachers has become more and standardized and demanding, asking for new competences in order to fulfill diversifying work roles. In this paper we focus on how vocational teachers themselves construct narratives of their professional careers and changes in their work. The analysis of work-life-history narratives enable to understand how the occupation of vocational teachers has changed and what is the role of contextual factors and the agency of vocational teachers here.

Although, often the becoming a vocational teacher has rather been a chance than pre-planned career path, the teachers narratives reflect high commitment and caring for students as well as the vocational field taught. The multiple patterns of discontinuous “boundaryless” career paths including shifts between the industry and the school or sharing time between them reflects the identity profiles of vocational teachers often involving identification with vocational field taught and with the teachers´ identity at the same time. On the other hand, the shifts and disruptions in teachers´ careers has been related to societal changes and reorganization of the vocational education system or circumstances of private life.

Freidson, E. (2001). Professionalism: The third logic. London: Polity Press.