‘Still Game’: An analysis of the life history and career disappointments of one veteran male teacher of physical education in Scotland. Paper presented at British Educational Research Association (BERA) Annual Conference, September 6th-8th, Institute of Education, London.

Malcolm Thorburn

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

Abstract

Relatively little is known about veteran teachers’ lives and especially of veteran teachers who have failed to secure promoted teaching positions. In Hextall’s et al., (2007) bibliography of research on teachers’ lives, the predominant focus is on professionalism and professional development with much less on the tensions of teaching for many years and of how lack of desired career progression impacts on teachers’ identity. In investigating these dilemmas, this presentation reports on the life history and career disappointments of one male physical education teacher who has repeatedly been unsuccessful in securing a subject-based Head of Department position and who has taught in the same school continuously for nearly four decades. Analysis of teacher census data in Scotland indicates that just over a third of male physical teachers in their 50s are in non promoted teaching posts with just over a quarter of all high schools likely to have such a teacher in post. A case study methodology was used in an attempt to gain informative insights into the critical moments that have defined one teachers’ career. Data collection involved a series of ten semi-structured interviews with questions framed by the social and policy context of the teachers’ life. Context theorising included reviewing the importance of ‘hardiness’ and ‘vulnerability’ as dispositional factors which might influence commitment, control over environments, attitudes towards professional development and of how possible disappointments between personal investment in teaching and education management practices were handled. Findings revealed that ‘Jack’s’ resilience, solace in subject teaching and sense of identity was helpful in coping with lack of promotion. However, diminishing professional development opportunities, a reduction in physical educationalists working together, combined with limited collaborative managerial cultures led to the later parts of Jack’s career being isolated and disconnected in comparison with earlier ‘golden’ years. Here Jack’s stable identity and good relationships were helpful in developing a passion for teaching and the idea of teaching as a vocation. Jack’s hardiness was in certain ways also multi-faceted. He was able to cope with frequent interview rejection, the demands of sustaining his interest in teaching in a challenging school environment as well as satisfying the family need for stability.

References
Hextall, I., Gewirtz, S., Cribb, A. and Mahony, P. 2007. Changing Teacher Roles, Identities and Professionalism: An Annotated Bibliography. Available online:
http://www.kcl.ac.uk/content/1/c6/01/41/56/bibliography.pdf



Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2011
EventBritish Educational Research Association (BERA) Annual Conference - Institute of Education, London, United Kingdom
Duration: 6 Sep 20118 Sep 2011

Conference

ConferenceBritish Educational Research Association (BERA) Annual Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
CityLondon
Period6/09/118/09/11

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