Qualifying teacher work: everyday work as basis for the autonomy of the teaching profession

Jun. 14, 2007

Source: Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice, Volume 13, Issue 3
June 2007, pages 287 - 306

Teachers' work in tuition-free (non-classroom) time was investigated to see to what degree teachers do work that could be considered as qualifying for the status of professional autonomy. The question arises in Sweden and elsewhere as both teachers and the state actively, and in tandem, strive to professionalise the work of the teacher. Abbott's work on the division of expert labour is taken as a point of departure. Based on data collected by an organisation sampling method, the article describes what teachers do in their tuition-free time.

The study data consist of 1166 reports from 59 Swedish teachers' daily work situations in school years 1-12. Qualifying teacher work is related to teachers' ways of handling divergent cases, discretionary work and problem solving. Situations where teachers can use specific professional knowledge are described. One of the main findings is that in 22.2% of the situations studied, such professional knowledge can be applied. This corresponds to at least 7.5 hours of the Swedish teachers' weekly working hours; with the reservation that 10 hours of teachers' weekly 45 hours working time is not examined. This time corresponds roughly with the non-regulated working time, that is, time when the teachers do not have to be at school.

Updated: Mar. 13, 2008