07 March 2007

Will a McTeacher steal your job?

One teacher in the USA explained: "As for Allwright's comment, surely everyone knows that the day of 'teacher proof' materials has already arrived. The trend in publishing now is to write teacher's manuals with step-by-step directions and explanations of anything likely to cause the teacher difficulty. I have written half of dozen of these myself."

A teacher in Greece declares: "Dick Allwright's views do resonate with me. Behind the perceived indispensability of packaged methods and coursebooks alike lies (lurks?) a conception of teachers as semi-skilled 'materials operators', rather than educated and trained professionals."

A McJob is "a low-paying job that requires little skill and provides little opportunity for advancement."

I don't think we can call any of my blog readers a McTeacher. Just by viewing this blog shows that you are a professional and serious about your career and looking for more information to improve your skills. But let’s ask the question:

Are there McTeachers "out there"?

I'll venture answering "yes" as far as China is concerned. In China, we don't call them McTeachers. We call them backpackers. There has been a lot of discussion amongst teachers in China about the problem of the McTeachers which some teachers claim have infested the teaching jobs in China. Teachers with MA's and trying to find good jobs with decent pay blame these McTeachers for driving the wages down. A teacher working at a university with an MA will likely get only $120 more per month than a McTeacher or if working at a private training center may get paid the same.

Jack Richards referred to Apple and Jungck for a definition of deskilling published in a paper called "You don't have to be a teacher to teach this unit": "The first is what we shall call separation of conception from execution. When complicated jobs are broken down into atomistic elements, the person doing the job loses sight of the whole process and loses control over her or his own labor because someone outside the immediate situation now has greater control over both the planning and what is actually to go on.

"The second consequence is related, but adds a further debilitating characteristic. This is known as deskilling. As employees lose control over their own labor, the skills that they have developed over the years atrophy. They are slowly lost, thereby making it even easier for management to control even more of one's job because the skills of planning and controlling it yourself are no longer available. A general principle emerges here: in one's labor, lack of use leads to loss."(1)

This is not an issue to blame on publishers or material writers. It's a tribute to coursebook writers. They have made the new coursebooks so easy to use that even a McTeacher can use them. Fine. But what are you going to have to do to preserve your job?

(1) Apple,M and Jungck, S. 1990. "You don't have to be a teacher to teach this unit." Teaching, technology, and gender in the classroom. American Educational Research Journal 27(2):230

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