chapter  21
10 Pages

Changing Role of the Teacher Peter Gordon

If we examine the changing role of the teacher we must look at changes which have been taking place in society and which are reflected in schools. Bernstein (1967) put forward the hypothesis that, in Durkheim's terms, we are moving from a position of 'mechanical' to 'organic' solidarity. 'Mechanical' here refers to a type of society in which individuals share a common belief system and where roles are ascribed. Organic solidarity on the other hand, is based on differences between individuals and where roles are achieved rather than ascribed. This shift can be seen in secondary schools where there has been a move away from a ritual order based on status, to a more personalized one where teachers and pupils confront each other as individuals. The pupil's position is less likely to be fixed in terms of sex, age or intelligence; teaching groups are more flexible, with the class or form weakened as a basis for relationships. Subjects are no longer clearly defined units of the curriculum and are replaced by ideas or themes to be followed e.g. topic-centred and interdisciplinary inquiry work. This latter point has important consequences for the teacher. If there is a move from pupils learning standard operations tied to specific contexts to a pedagogy which emphasizes the exploration of principles, the teacher's role will change from that of providing answers to one of posing problems. The subsequent autonomy of pupils will change the authority relationship between teachers and pupils.