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Professionalizing College Teaching 
ByJoseph   posted on10 Jan, 12 5869 Views 0 Comments Main Feature Add to favorite

The dilemma of the college teacher is that he is both a member of a profession and an employee. In the former capacity he must set his own standards, or at least share inter setting. This is so because of the two factors which create the societal need for and which define a profession: (1) the grave importance of the calling to the public (2) the esoteric character of the calling and the consequent ability of non-members to set and enforce the necessary standards. In the other aspect of his dual capacity, that of employee, the college teachers standards are set for him by his employer. The classical professions of law and medicine are not typically burdened with this ambivalence What self-employed doctors and lawyers can do because they believe it to be professionally right, professors can do only after overcoming opposition from the administrators and trustees who train and supervise them (Oberer, 1969).

A very important point is broached in the above relation, and it is that those academics employed in institutions of higher education, while professionals in terms of expertise, exist in an occupational milieu in which client relationships are mediate and direct.
In academia, unlike in autonomous professions functioning on a free system, the academia is contractually purchased for a length of time whereas in medicine or law, a clear cut service is purchased an examination, an operation, a consultation, or a court appearance. The client contact is of short and well-defined duration, in academia this is not the case.

Any demand in incumbents for an increase in remuneration has an element of arbitrariness, in that the ultimate clients, parents and/or taxpayers, are never quite sure what they are getting for their money.

Thus, evolving client relationships in academia presents what is apparently a far more complex set of issues as in the case of other professional occupations

Besides the fact that competition is eliminated by free-setting and practitioner-scarcity, there is the crucial reality that when a doctor, dentist, or lawyer is needed, in most circumstances, the need is now. In education, on the contrary, the delivery of services is a year-long process, and its benefits are different (although no less socially important than in the other professions) and not clearly linked to the delivery of services.

Academia is one of the rare occupations in which life-time job security is guaranteed. It is not open-ended and based on continued, adequate, usually minimal performance. Accountability is a word not at all heard of in the academic circles.
The Challenges
Universities, the institutions of higher education, were a creation of medieval society. There was no grand plan: the arrival of any particular university was the outcome of particular events, geography and chance. Nor were universities born fully fledged, but developed over some time to take the organizational form which in turn was to last several hundred years. The universities a grouping of scholars eventually became a studium generale, a university recognized by King and Pope; and was granted considerable privileges in return for educating what were often the sons of relatively poor people. Themes of autonomy, privilege, equity, educational service, community and state recognition were all present, even from their early beginnings. The universities were not insignificant, then, in the medieval landscape (Barnett, 1997).

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