Professional ethics and attitudes of teaching professionals

1.1 Introduction: Teachers affect eternity; no one can tell where their influence stops. As a general rule, teachers teach more by what they are than by what they say. – Hendry Adams Teaching

Education is the process of drawing out the inborn capacities of an individual to develop his personality by training. It represents the total process of human learning. From the birth family and society educate humans to adapt to the environment mentally, physically, emotionally, and socially. The progress and prosperity of a nation are determined by its growth in education. Education should bring intellectual, social, cultural and scientific outlook in learners so as to make them better citizens. Along with knowledge acquisition education should develop the skill of problem-solving and a variety of desirable values like kindness, tolerance, dedication, confidence, and honesty. The main aim of education is to bring radical changes in student’s life, their behaviour, and attitudes which could be achieved by the role of teachers. The qualities of teachers have become a decisive factor in achieving the quality education. The ultimate goal of education can be achieved only when teachers have certain characteristics and qualities in them. Thus, the main energizing force of a school is its teacher and the effectiveness of it depends vitally upon the quality of its teachers.

In 1986, the National Policy on Education (NPE) has stated that ‘the status of the teacher reflects the socio-cultural ethos of a society’. The government, administrators, and the community are to create conditions to motivate and inspire teachers constructively so as to enable them to innovatively devise appropriate methods relevant to the needs of the community. Friedman (2000) had emphasized that educators are more responsible not only for the academic progress of their students but for their personal progress as well. He commented that teachers are confronted with parents’ expectations regarding their student’s performance and often receive blame for any shortcomings of the students. These situations may lead teachers to potential stress which might have negative effects on their profession. It may also affect their personal well-being and their mental health. It is therefore essential for teachers to develop and maintain a good relationship with their colleagues, supervisors, and administrators for support and assistance.

1.2 Profession:

Profession refers to those activities performed for some specific purpose under certain rules which are recognized by the society. In the words of Kinduka (1965) the English word profession has been derived from the Latin word `Profited’ which means to declare publicity, to promise or to vow. The word profession meant ‘a sense of religious dedication’ during the 13th century. It refers to the set of activities performed based on some knowledge and skill to serve the public and earn money intern adhering to the rules established by the society. Professions are occupations with special power and prestige. The discrete components of professional ethics include honesty, transparency, integrity, loyalty, and confidentiality. A group of individuals adhering to ethical standards and possessing required special knowledge and skills in the area of their interest and encouraging others to continue seeking their service are termed as ‘professionals’. In other words, the member of a profession is a professional. They are governed by codes of ethics and profess a commitment to competence, morality, and goodness of the public upholding the laws, ethics, and principles as a way of practice. Dedication towards duty is the core concept of a profession.

1.3 Teachers as Professionals:

In olden days only medicine and law were treated as professions but now teaching has been included as a profession and a noble profession. Education has some major components such as students, teachers, administrators, curriculum, and technology. The most critical component of education is the teacher. A teacher is one who transfers his skill, knowledge and learning experience to the learners in a school setting. The teaching profession comprises of many activities and one who executes these activities is the teacher. The teacher is expected to direct, to impart knowledge, to guide and serve the students with care by understanding their needs. The process of teaching includes understanding, believing and following the legislated frameworks, identifying and responding to the needs of students, maintaining a safe environment conducive to learning. The quality of teaching depends on the love and dedication of the teachers towards their profession. The teaching profession enlightens both the students and the teachers. Teaching is the noblest of all the professions since all professionals had their own teachers. Teachers in modern society should possess the required skills and qualifications and several specific characteristics like personal qualities, commitment, ethical and moral values to perform their duties effectively.

1.4 Attitude and the teaching profession:

Allport (1935) has defined attitude as a mental and neural state of readiness to respond, organized through experiences exerting a directive and dynamic influence on behaviour. It is a state of readiness to perform an action. It is an observable trait which characterizes a person’s thought and actions. Attitudes are formed from an individual’s personal experience. Attitude includes interests and sentiments of individuals. They guide individuals to select objects, situations, and ideas from the environment. The teaching profession requires certain dominant behaviour of teachers. This profession considers service above personal gains. The success of the teaching-learning process depends on the attitude of the teacher. The personality of students can be developed from the personality of teachers who are kind, caring, and ready to sacrifice and who show sincere interest in students. Teachers who are confident and adjustable are respected by their students and are successful. A teacher should

  • ❖ Demonstrate care and kindness in the classroom
  • ❖ Share responsibility with the colleagues + Encourage creativity in students
  • ❖ Understands the student and accept the diversity of them
  • ❖ Individualize instructions and treat all the students equally
  • ❖ Avoid negative communication

The attitude towards a teaching profession shows the personality of the teacher. Teachers with positive attitude try their best and achieve the goal. On the other hand, teachers with the negative attitude are frustrated and are dissatisfied in their profession. A person with desirable attitude will easily adjust to the job and produce good results.

1.5 Professional ethics for school teachers:

Professional ethics are the guidelines of code that provide direction in enhancing the dignity of any professional work. It is felt that to ensure its dignity, the status of the teaching profession is to be raised. Teachers need to be diligent professionals with knowledge and skill, personal values, ethical and moral values and commitment towards their work. Being nation-builders they should serve to keep the profession in the highest possible esteem. The code of professional ethics should be diligently followed by teachers. It should be instilled like an oath to pursue truth and devote towards excellence. According to NCTE a teacher should

    • Recognize that every child has a fundamental right to education
    • Recognize that every child has an inherent potential and talent
    • Recognize the need to promote the concept of the composite culture of India and a sense of national identity
    • Recognize the need to enhance the self-esteem of teachers
    • Recognize that teachers, being an integral part of social milieu, share the needs and aspirations of the people
    • Realizing that the community respect and support for the teachers are dependent on the teachers’ professionalism
    • Realizing the need for self-direction and self-discipline among members of the teaching community

Principles have been identified to serve as guidelines for teacher’s conduct in the following five major areas of professional activities which encompass the work of a teacher.

  • Relation of teachers to students
  • Relation of teachers to profession and colleagues
  • Relation of teachers to the management/administration
  • Relation of teachers to parents/guardians
  • Relation of teachers to society and the Nation

1.6 Role of teachers in modern society:

The teacher occupies the central position in an educational system. A teacher should play many roles in the classroom. Teachers must influence their pupils with their inspiring personalities. The attitude of teachers plays an important role in their teaching process. Teacher’s attitude towards teaching is the key factor for the success of any institution. The world is always in a state of flux. Teachers should modify the methods of teaching according to the changing world and impart the right type of education for future generations. Apart from mere imparter of knowledge, they have to be an interpreter of knowledge. Teachers are to construct knowledge and transform personality in their students. The teacher should be a friend, philosopher and a guide who help their students in their journey of education. They should adhere greatly to the fundamental values that guide every individual’s life. A teacher should,

  • ❖ Understand students’ feelings
  • ❖ Admit their mistakes and corrects them immediately
  • ❖ Accept the responsibilities of the classroom and students’ success
  • ❖ Display a sense of humour
  • ❖ Maintain confidential trust and respect
  • ❖ Be flexible and spontaneous
  • ❖ Receive criticism with a positive attitude
  • ❖ Provide constructive feedback to colleagues
  • ❖ Work cooperatively and collaboratively with others to achieve the goal

Thus a teacher has multifarious roles.

  • Democrat – The teacher is expected to be a Democrat and promote democratic values in students.
  • Detective – They should find and rectify the student’s misbehaviour.
  • Inspirer – She/he should inspire their students and be a role model for them.
  • Moralist – She/he should inculcate the moral values and attitudes cherished by the society.
  • Confident Person – They should act in a way to win the confidence of students.
  • Facilitator of Learning – A teacher should promote effective learning in the student.
  • The leader of the group – A teacher should act as a friend, philosopher and a guide.
  • Judge – Evaluation of student’s achievement should be done without any bias.
  • Missionary – A teacher should serve the students wholeheartedly without expecting substantial rewards.
  • Second parent – Teachers should treat the students with love and affection.
  • Reformer and Secularist – They should act as agents of social change.
  • Secularist – They should promote secular values in students.
  • Scientist – Teachers should promote a spirit of inquiry in students.

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