The Image of the Teacher Profession

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1 The Image of the Teacher Profession Cand.Merc.SOL Master Thesis Nana Maanu, Copenhagen Business School, February 7th, 2011 Advisor: Klaus Kasper Kofod, The Danish School of Education, Department of Education Number of pages: Word count: Footnotes and endnotes: 9.715

2 Master Thesis Cand.Merc.SOL - Winter 2011 Nana Maanu Tables of Contents Summary... 3 Chapter 1 - Introduction Field of Research Hypothesis Problem Statement Research Questions Delimitations... 7 Chapter 2 - Methodology Scientific Standpoint Unit of Analysis Empirical Data collection and Data Critique Secondary Empirical Data and Desk Research Existing Studies Primary Empirical Data Interviews The Coordinated Enrollment The Teacher Profession in Selected Media Triangulation Empirical Data Critique Chapter 3 - Theoretical Reflections Setting the Stage - the Media, Frontstage and Backstage Identity Organizational, Social and Corporate Image Making Sense Actor Network Theory New Public Management PEST Analysis Structural Thesis Design

3 Master Thesis Cand.Merc.SOL - Winter 2011 Nana Maanu Chapter 4 - Analysis Part One Macro-environmental Factors Political Factors Economic Factors Social Factors Technological Factors Conclusion on Research Question Part Two Making Sense of Prejudices about the Teacher Profession The Teacher Profession is Highly Debated (Obstacles to) Making Sense as an Acknowledged Profession Enactment and Self-fulfilling Prophecies Tools for Sensemaking Can DLF Make Itself Heard? Conclusion on Research Question 2 and Part Three Moments of Translation Problematization How is the Image of the MPLS Constructed? Interessement and Trials of Strengths Enrollment and Acceptance of Roles Mobilization: Who Speaks in the Name of Whom? Conclusion on Research Question Chapter 5 Conclusion on the Problem Statement Chapter 6 - Alternative Approaches, Perspectives and Critique Chapter 7 - Bibliography Chapter 8 - Appendices

4 Master Thesis Cand.Merc.SOL - Winter 2011 Nana Maanu Summary The focal point of the master thesis at hand is to understand and look into the ongoing sensemaking process and construction of meaning about the Danish municipal primary and lower secondary school in the general public. The teacher profession (an overall concept for both the teacher training and the teacher job) is much debated in the media and school teachers are often criticized for not being sufficiently qualified to educate our next generations. The university colleges are having difficulties in attracting competent students to the teacher training, and the ratio between the number of applicants to the municipal school teacher education and the full number of applications to all higher education institutes has decreased 32% from , whereas the universities experience a 12% increase. I am interpreting these deselections of the teacher profession as deliberate actions resulting primarily from profession s image. Hence, the fundamental foundation and basic assumption that the teacher profession has a poor image emerge. This naturally leads to the hypothesis that there exists a proportional coherence between the poor image of the teacher profession and the negative publicity that creates a negative self-reinforcing process and the majority of the deselection of the teacher training and the MPLS in general from which the problem statement is formulated. Based on empirical collected data, such as desk research, interviews and a comprehensive newspaper and tabloids articles research (402 articles in total), I have conducted an investigation of the macro-environmental factors and identified how political, economical, societal and technological factors have an impact on the teacher profession and how this is further related to the construction of image in the general public. Moreover, the analysis is complemented by Weick s sensemaking perspective as theoretical frame and actor network theory. To this end, it is intriguing that the MSTs and the young education seekers consider the teacher act a rewarding job. There is a match between what the teacher profession represents and what they seek in a future job, when they characterize the profession. However, the young still do not want to become MSTs as a result of what they hear and read in the media. Consequently, I define the media with their news dissemination as primary actors in the social construction of the teacher profession s image. 3

5 Master Thesis Cand.Merc.SOL - Winter 2011 Nana Maanu Chapter 1 - Introduction Before the summer vacation in 2010, Jørgen Søndergaard submitted ten proposals for improving the municipal primary and lower secondary school from the School s mobile task force to prime minister, Lars Løkke Rasmussen (V), and Søndergaard has no doubt that there in some cities is a definite deselection of the municipal primary and lower secondary school: You should not be afraid of competition and alternatives, however, in some locations every fourth child is enrolled in a private school, and it is my comprehension that this is an expression of the fact that the municipal primary and lower secondary school is having difficulties [ ] (Jessen et al., 2010). Søndergaard further emphasizes that the difficulties the parents experience can be both actual and based on rumors and negative publicity (ibid.). As the quotation emphasizes, the Danish municipal primary and lower secondary school (hereafter MPLS 1 ), is facing difficulties in being an attractive and recognized institution. The Ministry of Education and the prime minister, Lars Løkke Rasmussen acknowledge this (UVM, 2008a; UVM, 2010a) and as a result hereof, the government established the School s mobile task force in February 2010 to do a 360-degree service check of the MPLS (UVM, 2010a). The purpose of this mobile task force was to map the MPLS s strengths and weaknesses in order to strengthen the professional competence and identify examples of best practices to make sure that all young people complete upper secondary school (UVM, 2010a; SR, 2010a). The Danish MPLS is struggling with a poor image and almost every second Dane thinks that the MPLS not at all or to a less extent is prestigious (KL, 2010). Furthermore, the teacher profession has been much debated in the media in the last couple of years and not always for the better. This is creating challenges since the interest in the teacher profession has fallen and the ratio between the number of applicants to the municipal school teacher (MST) education and the full number of applications to all higher education institutes has decreased 32% from (KOT, 2010a; Appendix 2). In continuation hereof, there is a 4.5% shortage of MSTs in Denmark (DLF, 2010a, Appendix 3), which problematizes the situation even further. 1 See Appendix 1 for list of abbreviations. 2 The percentage of all applications to MST decreased from 7.3% (all applications) / 7% (1. Priority) in 2005 to 5% (all applications) / 5.1% (1. Priority) in

6 Master Thesis Cand.Merc.SOL - Winter 2011 Nana Maanu Today, a job is not just a function it constitutes a central part of our identity. Hence, we seek to work in- and be a part of an organization with which we can identify and which is recognized by others outside the organization, e.g. the society (Lievens et al, 2007: 45-47). At the same time we want our work to make sense and to make a difference: the job needs to make sense and develop both personally and professionally (cf. Christian Nielsen, associate professor at the Institute of Pedagogy, DPU and research manager at Center for Youth research in Lauritsen, 2008). It may sound cliché, but the young people from the so-called Generation Y - have high demands and expectations and they choose with their heart. It is especially in this context that image plays an essential role. The MPLS is one of the pillars in the development of welfare our society and is an essential part of educating future generations as Stefan Herman, Vice-Chancellor at Metropolitan University College, points it out: The teacher act is building up the society it is the world s most important job, if we want to have a free and democratic society (Herman, 2010). I find it problematic (and interesting) for our knowledge society that the profession cannot attract and maintain the needed resources. The MPLS as our educational system and the external environment are interdependent - and the existence of the Danish welfare state is dependent on future generations. 1.1 Field of Research In Denmark there is a demand of 10 years compulsory education for everyone between six and 16 years of age: on year of pre-school class, nine years primary and lower secondary education and a one year 10 th form (optional) (UVM, 2010b). The Danish MPLS is a public education institution that offers free education to all children. It is however an individual choice whether parents want their children to receive education in a publicly provided school, in a private school or in a independent school, where parents pay user charges, or at home - as long as accepted standards are met (UVM, 2010b). The percentage of preschool class and 7 th grade children enrolled in private schools is highest in Copenhagen, where it comprises 24% (Appendix 4). Common for the independent schools is that the teaching most often is scheduled more freely and the number of pupils in each class is relatively lower than in the public MPLS. There are currently 595,573 students enrolled in the 1605 Danish MPLS s (UVM, 2010b). The Danish school system is governed by different authorities: the government, the municipality and the local schools management. In the period from the year of 2003 until today, there have been several changes to the law of the MPLS (UVM, 2010b). The most significant ones are: introduction of obligatory tests and final exams, a new 5

7 Master Thesis Cand.Merc.SOL - Winter 2011 Nana Maanu preamble, domestic test results, municipal authority and obligatory student plans. This has resulted in a heavier workload for the individual teacher, who sees the new initiatives as a burden (Magasinet Penge, 2008; DLF, 2009). Teachers suffering from stress is the most evident symptom emerging from the introduction of a more bureaucratized and rigid system, which is expressed in the strong criticism and negative publicity (Magasinet Penge, 2008). The Danish teacher training has previously taken place at teacher s colleges. These have however been incorporated in the Center for Higher Education (CVU) structure in the year of 2000 and has taken place at university colleges since 2007 as a result of the law on university colleges as higher education that became effective in June 2007 (UVM, 2007a). The previous teacher colleges have been centralized and seven university colleges plus two engineer colleges have been established (UC, 2010) 3. The medium-cycle professional higher educations have become more research-based, which means that you now get a professional bachelor s degree when you graduate as MST after four years of education. As a supplement to the professional bachelor s degree there is also offered a merit MST education for people who already have an education, but wish to become MSTs instead. The duration is two - two and a half year and may be taken as full- or part time study. On the basis on the above-mentioned development I choose the teacher profession (the total term for both the teacher training and the function as MST) in Denmark as the field of research for the master thesis at hand. 1.2 Hypothesis As it emerges in the introduction, the Danish MST profession struggles with its poor image and has for a longer period of time fought against the lack of prestige. This has resulted in a decreasing interest within the field. On the basis hereof, I ascribe to the basic assumption that the profession has a poor image, which forms the foundation for the following hypothesis: 3 University College UCC, Metropolitan University College, University College Zealand, University College Lillebaelt, University College Syddanmark, VIA University College, University College North, Copenhagen University College of Engineering and Engineering College of Aarhus (UC, 2010). 6

8 Master Thesis Cand.Merc.SOL - Winter 2011 Nana Maanu There exists a proportional coherence between the poor image of the teacher profession and the negative publicity that creates a negative self-reinforcing process and the majority of the deselection of the teacher training and the MPLS in general. The hypothesis is not meant as verification principle to find the definitive truth and to test the science (cf. Popper s hypothetical deductive method in Fuglsang & Olsen, 2005:88). The purpose is however to apply the hypothesis as a structural and analytic tool, and as foundation for the problem statement below. In this way I ascribe to an explorative analysis approach, which facilitates the combination (or triangulation) of different scientific theoretical paradigms (Bryman & Bell, 2007: ) - more will follow in the method section. 1.3 Problem Statement In which way do external environment variables constitute the image of the teacher profession, and which implications do they have in relation to recruitment to the Danish municipal and lower secondary school? 1.4 Research Questions To answer the presented problem statement and as analytic structure tool the following research questions are presented: - What opportunities and challenges on the macro-level is the teacher profession facing in relation to making the profession more attractive and acknowledged? - How does the media portray the teacher profession in their news construction and which impact does it have on the way the profession is perceived? - How does the general public make sense of the teacher profession? - How do the media enroll the general public into the profession? 1.5 Delimitations As conceptual framework I am referring the field of research in general as teacher profession and do not distinguish between the teacher training and the teacher job within the Danish MPLS. This is done due to the fact that I assume that there exists a proportional coherence between what is expressed about the profession in the media, how this is perceived by the general public and how this has impact on potential/future MST students. The teacher training is a means/tool to the end, which is becoming a MST (unless you choose to upgrade your skills), and I assume that all matters about the profession are regarded as one and the same. 7

9 Master Thesis Cand.Merc.SOL - Winter 2011 Nana Maanu As it appears from the problem statement, the focus is on the Danish MPLS. Consequently, the master thesis at hand will deal with the profession in a Danish context. However, there might be situations where OECD and PISA tests/investigations play a role in relation to the field of research, where it inevitably is difficult to eliminate- and distinguish Denmark from the comparative countries. The foundation is based on the basic assumption that the Danish MPLS and MST profession have a poor image. Hence, the problem statement is founded on elements that act a part in the construction of the MPLS s image. In this way, I address the image of the profession that emerges in the general public given that the hypothesis states that the image is of great importance in regards to the decreasing number of applicants to the MST teacher training and the lack of prestige. The general public in this context is perceived all as actors who have a relation to the profession. This is a very broad and general perception, which entails that the media is regarded as an independent actor, and is a part of the general public. Thus, it is assumed that MSTs, MST students, upper secondary educations students, MPLS pupils, parents, politicians and other actors besides own experience also relate to the profession through what they hear and read in the media. Despite the use of teacher profession as general framework, the thesis ascribes more focus to the teacher job than the teacher training. The reason for that is the presumption that the teacher job as the object (and as an constituent element of the whole) is of greater significance for the problem statement, which deals with challenges and opportunities in regards to making the teacher act more attractive with a view to recruit and maintain within the field. I am aware that this methodic reduction may have consequences consisting of bias and myopia for the study (Christensen, 2003:30) as it involves elimination of aspects within the teacher training and synthesizes from a sections of the teacher profession. However, I am aware hereof and acknowledge the existence of these deselections and do hereby not deny them as ontological reductionism within the nomothetic science (ibid.; Fuglsang & Olsen, 2005: ). The MPLS and MST profession have recently been subject to fundamental changes and reforms to make it more efficient and transparent as a part of the government s effort in modernizing the public sector in Denmark. This New Public Management (NPM) movement has increased the amount of formalized planning, control and reports (OECD, 2005; Magasinet Penge, 2008). Consequently, MST teachers experience how the government requires more evaluation, documentation, and control tests (DLF, 2009), which obviously has resulted in high debate and criticism. Furthermore, the Danish MPLS is at present time one of 8

10 Master Thesis Cand.Merc.SOL - Winter 2011 Nana Maanu the politicians hobby-horses in the run-up to the national election that will be called within the next year (it is to be hold before November 13, 2011). In this connection, it is significant to stress that the thesis is focusing on the image of the teacher profession and media s news construction, and does therefore not commit itself to political standpoints and efforts. However, the politicians do play a part in the construction of the narrative and image of the teacher profession in the public and will thus act as a part in the public s sensemaking process. Chapter 2 - Methodology The following sections outline the methodic reflections emerging during the writing process. The purpose is to explain and argue for the foundation from which the answering of the problem formulation will be conducted. 2.1 Scientific Standpoint The task of sensemaking resembles more closely the activity cartography. There is some terrain that mapmakers want to represent, and they use various modes of projection to make this representation. What they map, however, depends on where they look, how they look, what they represent, and their tool for representation (Monmonier in Weick, 2002:9). The crucial point of the quotation above is that there is no one best map of a particular terrain (ibid.), but rather an indefinite number of useful maps, depending on a given context, situation and the ones involved in the mapping. This metaphor can be further linked to the scientific standpoint of the thesis at hand, whose point of departure is within the human science paradigm since the purpose is to understand, interpret and explain what underlies the decreasing interest in the teacher profession. Thus, based on a social constructivist and hermeneutic paradigm the thesis is built on a theoretical framework, where the society is seen as a socially constructed phenomena and is analyzed as systems of shared meaning (Humphreys & Brown, 2002:422; Smircich & Stubbart, 1985:724). I do not want to advance lawfulness as it is done within the national science (cf. positivism), however rather observe and obtain knowledge of- and generalize from the context. Consequently, the thesis takes an inductive approach (Bryman & Bell, 2007:12), as the foundation for thesis is observation of the field of research from where conclusions are generated. Another notable aspect within the hermeneutics is the object to obtain meaning and understanding of the field of research from the whole as well as the constituent element cf. the hermeneutic circle (Christensen, 9

11 Master Thesis Cand.Merc.SOL - Winter 2011 Nana Maanu 2003:144; Fuglsang & Olsen, 2005:282). It is the interplay and correlation between the constituent element and the whole that create meaning, and it is this relation that enables understanding and interpretation of the phenomena (ibid.). Theoretically, the circle continues infinitely (Kvale, 1994:47). I will however stop it when I obtain comprehensive and noncontradictory interpretation of the analyzed field. We construct reality and meaning socially in terms of relations with(in) organizations, the members and the environment (Watson, 2006:53). These relationships should be seen as always being in process, emergent and changing (ibid.). Image is also a constructed phenomenon, which is created from interpretation of messages (Hatch & Schultz, 1997: Many of these messages derive from the media and their news construction, which in this connection becomes an independent non-human actor. This gives rise to another theoretical aspect, namely Actor Network Theory (ANT), where human and non-human elements within a network are viewed in the same way and described using the same terms (Callon 1997:93). With the image of the Danish teacher profession as focal point, meaning how the profession is regarded in the public, it entails that many of the things that will be studied in this thesis, are phenomena of consciousness to which I do not have directly access. They are already interpreted through various expressions, which lead to the fact that I will have to interpret these interpretations. As a result, the knowledge I acquire through my empirical research, will be interpreted from the respondents frame of understanding. Consequently, the reliability and validity of this knowledge on which I draw conclusions, can be argued as it is contextual and only makes up a part of the comprehensive picture in relation to the argued problem statement. However, it is here again significant to stress the hermeneutic frame of reference, where the object is not to find the definitive, objective truth, but rather to generate knowledge that can be regarded as reliable and rational in the sense that the interplay of the theory and empirical data I apply generate knowledge emerging plausible and well-founded. 2.2 Unit of Analysis In line with the scope of the thesis, it is convenient to pay attention to the selected level of analysis and perspective. According to Scott there are generally seen three levels of analysis (Scott, 1992:16-17). The first is the social psychological level (micro level) that focuses on the individual and the interpersonal relations. The second is the structural level (meso level), which regards organizations as a whole as well as a number of sub classifications, with focus 10

12 Master Thesis Cand.Merc.SOL - Winter 2011 Nana Maanu on divisions or the like. The third and the last is the ecological level (macro level), which views organizations as a collective actor in relation to other organizations or the society (ibid.). In this perception the interaction between the organization and the environment is present and acknowledged. Even though Scott s perspectives are applicable to organizations I will apply his theory to the teacher profession, which then is regarded as the whole, whereas the MPLS and the MST teacher training at the different colleges of education are making up sub units. Hence, I am applying the structural level as a structural tool to my overall methods. In the further analysis, attention will be paid to a combination of the psychological level and the ecological level in relation to the image of the Danish MPLS. With sensemaking (Weick, 1995; 2002) as overall theoretical framework, the social psychological level will be emphasized as an individual level in reference to the construction of the image of the teacher profession. It will furthermore be applied in the de- and reconstruction of the empirical data, e.g. interviews and the media s news construction. Where ANT is positioned, the social psychological level will be applied in a fashion, where the different actor networks are distinguished on a more individual level. The Danish teacher profession is struggling with becoming prestigious and is having difficulties in attracting resources/people in this way the profession is compared to other work places and educational institutions. Whence comparison to other organizations, institutions and other externalities is inevitable. The ecological level will therefore be applied in a fashion, where different actors and the interaction among these is distinguished on a collective level. Within this enacted model, [t]he environment and the organization are created together through social interaction processes of key organizational participants (Smircich & Stubbart, 1985:726). In this way the relation between the profession and the environment are examined, thus combining different analysis levels. Therefore, it is necessary to assume that organizations and the environment are interdependent. The present analysis and the chosen theories can therefore be seen as a result of- and linked to what Scott defines as the open perspective (Scott, 1992:125). During the last century there has been a historical movement from a more closed and independent to an open conception of organizations, which is expressed in the 11

13 Master Thesis Cand.Merc.SOL - Winter 2011 Nana Maanu distinction between rationale ( ), natural ( ) and open (1960-) conceptions of organizations 4 (Scott, 1992). 2.3 Empirical Data collection and Data Critique This section will present the empirical data and reflect upon my methodological considerations. First, the secondary data (desk research) that has formed the basis of my knowledge about the field is presented. This is followed by an outline of the primary empirical data that constitutes of interviews and an article analysis in selected media. The primary data is specifically produced by me for the thesis at hand, whereas the secondary data consists of already existing analysis and investigations in other contexts Secondary Empirical Data and Desk Research If we are to understand an empirical field, [ ] we must also understand and reflect on the organizational context in which they emerge (Søderberg, 2006:403). Consequently, I make use of desk research in the preliminary phase to create an overview of the surroundings that the teacher profession affect- and is being affected by hence, I am doing desk research of the field of research. The secondary but not at least very important data consists of scientific papers, newspaper articles, websites and scientific studies within the problem area. The following sections will present the existing literature and newest studies about the teacher profession that are relevant for this thesis and which main conclusions that will be used in the further analysis Existing Studies The Danish teacher association s (Danmarks Lærerforening, DLF hereafter) is continuously making surveys among their members (app ). Those with most relevance to the thesis will make up a part of the secondary empirical data and are presented below with other studies that as well are relevant and from whose conclusions I can benefit. The School s Mobile Task Force (2010) The School s Mobile task force has in the mapping of the MPLS s strengths and weaknesses put forward ten proposals to the government that can enable strengthening the professional 4 The three perspectives are an expression for the view applied to a specific organization. They have not replaced each other, but are existing pillars, which all can be useful today. Hence it is possible to combine them and use them as supplemental perspectives (Scott, 1992:31). 12

14 Master Thesis Cand.Merc.SOL - Winter 2011 Nana Maanu competence in the MPLS and within the teacher training. and identify examples of best practices to make sure that all young people complete upper secondary school (UVM, 2010a; SR, 2010a). DLF (2010) Teacher Shortage 2010 Comparison to 2009 The Danish teacher association completed a study of MST shortage in March 2010 in which they compare the numbers to a similar investigation made in 2009 (DLF, 2010a). In March 2010 there were 46 open MST positions, 90 (of 97) councils have in total 973 non-mst educated (a person who has not completed an ordinary teacher s college or a degree as merit MST) employed as salaried in time limited positions, 87 (of 97) counsels have in total 1304 non-mst educated employed in permanent positions. This gives a total shortage of 2324 corresponding to 4.5% (ibid.). The shortage is unequally spread in Denmark: some municipalities have all MST positions filled with MSTs who actually have a completed their teacher training, other have every fifth MST position filled with teacher without a teacher training. The number of non-mst educated teachers and open MST positions have decreased compared to last year 5. However, in the upcoming years it is to be expected that a larger number of MSTs will retire contemporary with the fact that relative few MSTs will graduate from the teacher training colleges. Whence, there is a trend towards continuing shortage of educated MSTs. DLF (2009) Debureaucratization As already mentioned, the teacher profession has been subject to various reforms as a part of the government s NPM wave in its effort to modernize the public sector. These new demands have ironically, bureaucratized the teacher profession s structure (OECD, 2005; Magasinet Penge, 2008). As a result, DLF has in 2009 in cooperation with MEGAFON conducted a survey with the purpose of clarifying 1450 teachers attitude towards- and experiences with the control, documentation requirements and trust within the field 6 (DLF, 2009). Some of the main conclusions from this survey will be used in the further analysis. 5 Many municipalities have made an effort in motivating non-mst educated who has worked as MSTs to take a MST or merit MST education. 6 The study is conducted among 1450 members of DLF s panel of teachers in the period January The response rate was 77%. 13

15 Master Thesis Cand.Merc.SOL - Winter 2011 Nana Maanu NIRAS (2009) Application to The Teacher Training Analysis of the underlying causes of the decreasing application rate NIRAS Consultants have made a report of the underlying causes of the decreasing application rate to the teacher training. The analysis is based on a comprehensive qualitative collection of data, primarily with an anthropological approach among upper secondary programs, young people who are taking a year's sabbatical and MST students. The study relates to the conceptions and myth about the teacher profession that not necessarily reflects the real life, but nevertheless have an impact on their perceptions of the field. TALIS (2009) Main Results The Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) is an OECD investigation of the teachers teaching environment, the working conditions, professional development, etc. TALIS was completed in Denmark in March April 2008 where approximately 200 representatively chosen schools have participated in every country. The first round deals with teachers in the MPLS s older grades, namely 7-10 th grade. The study shows among other things that 28% of the teachers are teaching at schools, where the principals think that there to some- or to a greater extent is a lack of qualified MSTs (TALIS, 2009). Furthermore, the study shows that the Danish teachers use 81% of their time on teaching, 7% on administrative tasks and 12% on upholding calm and order in the classroom. The Danish Ministry of Education (UVM 2008) Analysis of the decreasing application to the professional bachelor s degrees UVM, Capacent and Epinion have mapped and analyzed the causes of the decreasing application the professional bachelor degrees in general and with a special focus on MSTs, pedagogues and hospital nurses (UVM, 2008b). Their main conclusions are that the decline not can be put down to demography as the youth groups are growing these years. The predominant barrier is lack of prestige and acknowledgement, which the potential students think that these higher educations are short of. There exists a general lack of status as regards to the content of the educations, the professions and hence expected career opportunities (UVM, 2008b). In this connection the negative media coverage plays an essential role, which reduces the young people s (and their social circle) interest in the field. It is for that reason important to focus on the positive things of the profession. 14

16 Master Thesis Cand.Merc.SOL - Winter 2011 Nana Maanu UVM (2007) Selection And Deselection of The Teacher-, Pedagogy-, Nurse-, and Social Worker Education This report by Epinion emphasizes negative publicity about working conditions and environment, low salaries, physically hard work and low status as prima vital reasons why the teacher profession is abandoned. The report is a comprehensive qualitative and quantitative study with potential students (students on their last year of youth education), current students on their first year of their medium-cycle professional higher education, student advisor tutors and study directors. The purpose of the survey is to estimate and explain the education seekers experiences of the medium-cycle professional higher educations and their reasons for not choosing this direction. Furthermore, it is an attempt to elucidate the existing prejudices and conceptions to understand the barriers they are faced with Primary Empirical Data Interviews In terms of primary data, in total seven semi-structured individual interviews, whereas five are confidential, and one group interview have been conducted, (Int. 1-8, Appendix 12), to obtain knowledge from different angles and occupational roles within the teacher profession, namely: - (1) Line Hjarsø: MST student who currently is on leave of absence as she has been appointed chairman for the MST students association (Lærerstuderendes Landskreds) and is a part of DLF s central board - (2) Stefan Hermann: Vice-Chancellor at Metropolitan University College in Copenhagen - (3) A second year MST student from Zahle - (4) A teacher with university background, who worked as MST for ten years, but now has changed track and is working in a high school located in Copenhagen - (5) MST teacher and female trade union representative from a private school on Frederiksberg - (6) A former marketing manager from the private sector, who now is working as merit MST teacher in Lyngby-Taarbæk - (7) A MST special teacher who now is studying a master of pedagogy - (8) A group interview with four high school students on their third year from a high school located in Copenhagen 15

17 Master Thesis Cand.Merc.SOL - Winter 2011 Nana Maanu As a means to give value to- and look into the ongoing sensemaking process a narrative approach has been employed in the interview phase as: [n]arratives are ascribed as tool or program for making sense of events (Gephart, 1991:37 in Humphreys & Brown, 2002:422). Furthermore, narratives can assist organizational participants to map their reality (Boyce, 1996; Weick, 1995 in Humphreys & Brown, 2002:422). All interviews have been electronically recorded and all except the group interview, where a resume is presented, were subsequently transcribed verbatim (Appendix 12). Furthermore, they were all (except Int. 1) performed in situ in the respective offices/schools. It has been frequently noted that members of an organization can be suspicious towards an outside researcher and may not be co-operative (Horn, 1996:551 in Humphreys & Brown, 2002:426). To suppress and reduce this tendency the interviews were held in Danish (and then translated when citations are used) due to the fact that [ ] it is assumed that most people find it easier to express themselves in a more varied and unrestrained way in their native language [ ] (Søderberg, 2006:403). Furthermore, the respondents (expect Hermann and Hjarsø) are anonymized and are therefore referred to by the interview number (Int. 1-8). The task of interviewing resembles a dance (Esterberg, 2002:87) and Kvale (1994:131; Fuglsang & Olsen, 2005:343) is characterizing the interview situation as an asymmetrical power structure: It is therefore important to meet the interviewee on her or his premises and adopt the role of an audience in a storytelling event by becoming a fellow traveler (Gabriel, 2000:137), while simultaneously be acquainted with the necessity of remaining objective in order not to identify entirely with the interviewee and thereby becoming native or fall victim to an unconscious transference (Kvale, 1994:123). In line with the overall hermeneutic perspective, narrative interviewing does not approach any objective truth more than other interviewing methods, but it opens a window to the diverse world that key actors in an organization construct (Søderberg, 2006:413). For that reason it is significant to bear in mind that the storyteller is concerned not with facts-as-information, but with fact-as-experience (Gabriel, 2000:135; Søderberg, 2006:399). In this way stories can be treated as clues leading to the truth about how the teacher profession (ibid.) The Coordinated Enrollment The coordinated enrollment (KOT) is the unit that since 1977 has coordinated the enrollment to all higher educations institutions in Denmark (KOT, 2010b). From here it is possible to get information about the number of applications within all areas divided into geography, gender, age, rang of prioritization, etc. Based on this information, I have made various statistics of the 16

18 Master Thesis Cand.Merc.SOL - Winter 2011 Nana Maanu application numbers, where the development of the application percentage within MST is compared to the universities and other medium-cycle professional higher educations. As illustrated in Figure 1 below, the application percentage to all medium-cycle professional higher educations and MST has been stagnant until this year (2010), whereas the percentage to universities has increased (refer to Appendix 2 for detailed numbers and percentages). The application percentage refers to the total number of applications and not just applicants, who have applied for their 1. priority. In this way, everybody who in some way (1. priority as well all other applicants) has an interest in the teacher training will be represented and included in the data. Higher education application ratio (all applications) 60 Application ratio (%) University Medium-cycle (ex. MPLS) MPLS Application year Figure 1: Development within the application percentage to municipal schoolteacher, other medium-cycle professional higher education programs and universities. Many journalists have during the spring of 2010 created optimism and shared the message that downfall is over and that the curve is changing due to a rise in the number of applications to the teacher training compared to 2008 and 2009 (Honoré, 2010, Pedersen, 2010, Saietz, 2010). I do, however, think that they are misinterpreting the development: yes, the number of applications has increased, nevertheless if there is also an increase within the number of applications to other higher educations due to greater year groups, then the development has to be measured relatively and not in an absolute manner. Hence, the percentage of MST applications of the total amount of applications to all higher educations provides a realistic picture of the truth and it is this relative I apply in the further analysis. The data from KOT serves as basis for the problem statement and the basic assumption that the Danish teacher profession has a poor image. In total, the ratio between the number of 17

19 Master Thesis Cand.Merc.SOL - Winter 2011 Nana Maanu applicants to the MST education and the full number of applications to all higher education institutes has decreased 32% from compared to the universities that has experienced an increase of roughly 12% (KOT, 2010a), which is illustrated in Table 1 below. Consequently, there is still room for improvements and a need for working on the image to make the teacher profession more attractive in order to overcome the stagnation. Table 1: Application Ratio in Percentage from All applications MST University Mediumcycle (ex. MST) -32% 12,30% -13,50% 1. priority -26,50% 3,80% -4,10% The Teacher Profession in Selected Media The majority of the young people who are about to apply for their higher education refer to the media and the Internet as determining factors in their choice of higher education (Int. 8; Epinion, 2007; UVM, 2008b; Niras, 2009 Appendix 5). Thus, the media constitutes an important actor in relation to the general public s frame of reference in regards to what is communicated. For that reason, I will include theory that relates to the media s role in the society in correlation to their role as communicators, sensemakers (Weick, 1995:18) and sensegivers (Gioia & Chittipeddi, 1991:442). In this relation, I will make a study of the media coverage of the teacher profession in selected medias to identify how it is portrayed and who the dominating actors are. Due to the fact that the application percentage has increased 0.3 percentage points from (KOT, 2010a; Appendix 2), I will make a comparative comprehensive analysis of the media coverage from January 1, 2008 June 30, 2008 and again from January 1, 2010 June 30, 2010 respectively. In this way I hope to find more positive stories and messages in the year 2010, which could be one of the reasons for the increasing interest within the field. Furthermore, I assume that it is within this period that the young education seekers intensify their search for information about potential educations to meet the application deadlines (March 15 and July 5), whereby the news coverage in this period plays a significant role in their choice of study. It could have been interesting to supplement the analysis with the television and radio medium. However, it has not been possible, as there do not exist any publicly accessible search engines that could have surveyed the content of potential electronic resources. I am in 18

20 Master Thesis Cand.Merc.SOL - Winter 2011 Nana Maanu this context aware that it entails limitations in regards to drawing conclusions on the total media publicity seen through the light that the readership of the daily papers in general has decreased for the benefit of the television and the Internet (Meilby, 2004). The daily papers have though not lost their impact, and are still highly relevant since the television and radio to a great extent use their stories and news in their news gathering (ibid.). Consequently, I am assuming that the daily papers are an influencing factor in regards to the news that is communicated in the other media. To accommodate the possibility of drawing conclusions based on hypothesis and assumptions and to achieve representativity, I have chosen a comprehensive selection of Danish daily newspapers: Politiken, Berlingske Tidende and Jyllands-Posten, together with one new agency: Ritzaus Bureau (Ritzau). The three daily newspapers are accounted for the three largest national morning papers, by which they reach a wider audience 7 (TNS Gallup, 2010; Appendix 6). Ritzau stands out by being a news agency. The news communicated from here are used in the daily newspapers, hence I consider Ritzau as an important actor in the news food chain. Furthermore, I will include the tabloid newspapers Ekstra Bladet and B.T. and the free daily newspapers 24timer and MetroXpress even though they do not have MPLS journalists as Politiken, Berlingske Tidende, Jyllands- Posten and Ritzau have 8 (Int. 9). However, their readership comes close to- and even exceeds the readership of the aforementioned (Appendix 6). The tabloids and free daily newspapers mostly re-produce MPLS and MST stories from Ritzau and the daily newspapers, but as they have a different target audience and since it can be surmised that many young education seekers read them (and since 24timer and MetroXpress are available to everybody in the greater cities) they still act an important part in the construction of the teacher profession s image. In the selection of articles I have employed certain criterions to secure objectivity and to emphasize the field of research. The purpose of this analysis is to elucidate how the profession is portrayed in the media and the impact this has on the creation of general meaning and opinion. 7 In total the three newspapers have had a readership of on Sundays and in the weekdays in 1st half year 2010 (Gallup, 2010, Appendix 6). 8 Information and Kristeligt Dagblad do also have MPLS journalists. However, due to their relatively low readership of (Appendix 6) compared to the other selected sources, I have chosen not to include them in the analysis. 19

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