Is Teaching a Profession: How Would We Know?

  • Kenneth A. Strike


Is teaching a profession? This is an unprofitable formulation of the question. The concept of a profession is an ideal type (Haller & Strike, 1986). An ideal type will consist of a set of characteristics that specifies what constitutes a pure case (Hoy & Miskel, 1987). Among the characteristics that are often supposed to define professions are the possession of an esoteric knowledge base, a long and substantial amount of training required for entrance, the existence of a professional association that can speak authoritatively for the occupation, a code of ethics, significant professional autonomy, and a strong orientation toward service and client welfare. Such characteristics will be fully exemplified only by a few paradigm cases. The usual paradigm cases of professions are fee-for-services occupations such as medicine and law. Most cases of professions will lack some of these characteristics or possess them in lesser degree than these paradigm cases. These will be “quasiprofessions.” Teaching will be a quasi-profession since it will have some characteristics of a profession, but will have them to a lesser extent than the paradigm cases of professions. What do we gain by trying to decide if teaching really qualifies as a profession? Why not focus instead on a description of the characteristics that the occupation does have or should have?


Knowledge Base Teacher Evaluation Professional Ethic Pedagogical Knowledge Professional Standard 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kenneth A. Strike
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EducationCornell UniversityIthacaUSA

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