Professional creativity: toward a collaborative community of teaching

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The substantive focus of this chapter is school teaching, specifi cally in England, at a time when conceptions of profession, of teaching as a profession, and of the professional knowledge base of teachers continue to be contested. Teaching is sometimes defi ned as a “state-mediated” profession (Johnson, 1972) in that teachers mediate the state’s educational goals in relation to a state-defi ned clientele. This defi nition highlights the bureaucratic and regulatory aspects of professional work such as school teaching. Nonetheless, teaching is a type of profession that in England, as in many parts of the world, has become vulnerable to neoliberalism’s push toward the marketization of public services managed through vertical hierarchies of control-in other words, New Public Management (McLaughlin, Osborne, & Ferlie, 2002). Markets and hierarchies are seen as challenges to the traditional notions of professions as autonomous communities. In this chapter, drawing on related theoretical resources derived from Marxian political economy-cultural-historical activity theory, the British tradition of cultural studies, and the critical sociology of professions-I argue that the diffi cult and contested concept of profession necessarily grows out of the processes of collective creativity and learning that are the focus of this book. Collective creativity is both a condition and defi ning attribute of professional cultures that make the actions of individual professionals meaningful and societally signifi cant. A profession in its historical sense is recognizable because of its developmental stance toward both its own knowledge base and its social relations. Collective creativity and learning are distinguishing features of professionals as occupational groups, even when they are of the state-mediated kind and even when their organizational autonomy is challenged by markets and hierarchies.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLearning and Collective Creativity
Subtitle of host publicationActivity-Theoretical and Sociocultural Studies
EditorsAnnalisa Sannino, Viv Ellis
Place of PublicationNew York NY USA
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9780203077351
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013
Externally publishedYes

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