Curriculum Development: Who is a professional teacher? What are some of the qualities a professional teacher possesses?

7a i).  Examine who a professional teacher is and some of the qualities a professional teacher possesses?



Professional Teacher

Let us briefly examine how professional teachers came about. First, lets answer the question:

Activity 25

Who is a professional teacher?

Professionals are the trained people in the art of teaching. They are paid a salary or wage for the service they render to their customers. Terms of employment for these professional teachers may vary from place to place. In Kenya we may categorize professional teachers by place of employment. There are teachers employed by private or non-governmental agencies with different terms of service. The majority of professional teachers in this country are employed by the Teacher Service Commission (TSC) which is a government agency.

Greek sophists are believed to be the earliest known teachers. They consisted of a group of well-learned teachers who moved from one place to another teaching. They usually charged a fee for the services rendered to people. Sophists were prominent in the art of public speaking or rhetoric. They were able to put doubt or confession in the minds of  the youth. The youth were able to develop a high degree of thinking or reasoning. As a result, they were able to challenge dogma, word which did not possess meaning and any form of opinion which did not seem to be knowledgeable. During the time of Socrates, the Greeks began to discourage charging of fees for teaching. They thought that this would degrade or lower the value of education. This is why Socrates himself moved  from one market to another teaching without being paid fees for his service.

The meaning of “teacher” became so pronounced at the time of the Romans conquered Greece and introduced a kind of hierarchy. The Romans introduced two groups of professional teachers. The first one was, the “Literator” i.e. a teacher in primary school and the second one was “Ludi Magista or Rhetor” i.e. teachers who taught in the Roman Grammar Schools.

This period actually marks the beginning when people could see and appreciate the role of teachers in a society. They began to advocate for teachers salary based on their services. Plato was among the earliest advocates of salary for teachers. He drew up a  plan of education for the ruling class, the philosophers, kings or guardians of the state.  He felt that teachers had a big role in society, which gave them the honour they deserved. It interesting to note that during this time, Plato felt that the highest officer in the state should be the Minister of Education and that anybody who should hold that office must be fifty years of age, married and with his own children.

During the middle ages, schools began to be diversified. This state of affairs made teaching to become complicated. As a result, the system of pre-service training was introduced and became compulsory for anybody inspiring to become a teacher.

What qualities do we expect of Professional Teachers?

All of us always think that colleges and universities should produce teachers who are adequately trained to handle every aspect of school curriculum. Unfortunately, this is not what colleges and universities do. They merely lay the foundation upon which the young teacher in the field can build. After three to five years, the young teacher will have acquired experience. Experience necessary for carrying out curriculum activities can  only be acquired in schools where one is posted to teach.

On the other hand, experience alone may not be sufficient for a good teacher. Some educators wrote that, the amount of experience we have had is of less importance than our ability to profit by it. The best teachers are those who have the humility and capacity to learn by success and failure. Humility, the educators argue, is the capacity to accept  the criticisms of others and to criticize ourselves without feeling too sorry for ourselves. The points selected and discussed below are only guidelines of what is thought or felt that teachers should do or be. You can think of many other qualities that will be relevant to your society. Our society is complex; therefore, their views and values on qualities teachers should posses, will vary.

First and foremost, all societies expect a teacher to be a person of good moral conduct. The teacher must be someone who is prepared to respect truth under all circumstances. Most important, a teacher must have love for people and children in particular. Children and people in common are the immediate clients of a teacher in school. Teachers are looked upon in society as people with high integrity and morals whose personal lives set examples for others to emulate. Youths will be most comfortable in the hands of a  teacher with good character than a bad person. We have heard and read of cases of teachers interdiction, suspension and even dismissal because of bad behavior in schools.

Secondly, a good teacher will remain a student throughout the period of his teaching career. This is the only way a teacher will become an educated person. Good teaching fails as soon as we cease to renew our knowledge through learning. Age and experience do not alone promote good teaching. The content we learn at school and in college serve as the starting points for learning. We must remember that knowledge is dynamic. It increasing daily with new discovery and expansion in areas of study. As a teacher, you are expected to know far more than the pupils you teach in class. As teachers, we are forced to improve our methods of teaching in order to cope with the new technology.  The students you teach are inquisitive. They acquire new information through all forms of media. It is therefore, necessary for you to know the pupils you teach as well as the subject content. This can be achieved by the teacher accepting to continue learning throughout his life time.

Thirdly, a good teacher must be adaptable. The education you have received should help you to tackle new types of experiences within your teaching environment. We must develop personal initiatives and abilities to handle new situations as they come to us in schools. For instance, our curriculum is changing form time to time with new subjects being introduced. For example, Social Education and Ethics syllabus, in the 8-4-4 curriculum. Various types of this syllabus, will need personal initiative, common sense and ability. We must be willing to confront and face new issues and problems as they come.

Fourthly, courage combined with adaptability is important for a good teacher. You may be faced with harsh conditions when posted to a new school. Ma be, the school has not enough buildings or they may be of poor standards, not enough equipment, text books etc. What do you do? Run away and abandon your students? Many people have faced similar situations in the past. Bear in mind that, our society is not economically equal.


In summary we have been able in this lecture to:

Explain the origin of the terms teacher, teaching and professional teachers. They usually charged a fee for their services.

The term professional teachers became more pronounced during the period of the Roman conquest of Greece. The Romans introduced two categories of teachers. The first category of professional teachers was the Ludi Magista or Rhetor teachers who taught in the Roman Grammar schools.

Identify some important qualities of good teacher. We put the qualities of a good teacher into four main categories: moral conduct be a student throughout his life, thirdly, adaptable to varying circumstances of the teaching for courage combined with adaptability.



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