Being A Teacher: Altruistic and Narcissistic Expectations of Pre-service Teachers

August, 2016

Source: Teachers and Teaching: theory and practice, Vol. 22, No. 5, 625–648, 2016
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This article explores pre-service teachers’ expectations of their future teaching career, in particular concerning teacher– student interrelations.

The author assumes that teachers’ expectations for self-expression through teaching are directed towards the fulfillment of altruistic needs (instilling knowledge, caring, bestowing friendship) and providing for narcissistic desires (gaining admiration, respect, and demonstrating leadership).

The participants were 156 pre-service teachers in elementary education (national and national-religious), in the regular education and in the special education tracts.
These pre-service teachers were enrolled in three teacher-training colleges in the center of Israel. Most of the students were women.
Data were collected through a self-report questionnaire.

The author argues that teacher altruistic and narcissistic classroom expectations may help in predicting teachers’ student control ideology.
He argues that humanistic control emphasizes the prominence of the student as an individual and the significance of creating an atmosphere in the classroom, in which students’ needs are satisfied.

In contrast, custodial control obligates students to incontrovertibly accept their teachers’ decisions and directions of thought and action. Hence, teachers who espouse custodial control do not try to understand their students’ behavior or take it into account, as do teachers who espouse humanistic control, and view breaches of discipline by the students as absence of motivation or non-compliance to their demands as a personal affront.
The author argues that humanistic control can result from genuine altruistic desires, and custodial control is comparable to narcissistic behavior.
He suggests that teachers with a strong altruistic inclination will exhibit greater consideration for the needs of their students. Theses teachers will be more moderate in classroom and personal discipline issues, will try to adapt their teaching and curricula to their student’ needs, and will have less concern for their own image in the classroom.

The author also suggests that this study can deepen the understanding of the teacher burnout phenomenon. The literature indicated that narcissists are more exposed and more sensitive than others to a sense of failure and to everything stemming from these emotions. The author suggests that teachers may experience stress and burnout when they experience narcissistic injury (a situation in which reality does not satisfy their narcissistic desires, and even presents a real threat to these wants), and altruistic injury – a situation in which altruistic aspirations are radically curbed by reality. He suggests that teacher burnout may thus stem from a failure of response that confirms and strengthens mirroring which originates in the self-object, or from failure of the self-object to supply a potential of supportive and reinforcing presence.

Updated: Nov. 22, 2018