The Industry and the damage done

Taken from Google images - explorepahistory.com

Taken from Google images – explorepahistory.com

On Saturday morning, before attending the Innovate conference I tweeted this:

Would it be innovative to stop using the word ‘industry’ with ELT and start using the word ‘profession’?

While I’m well aware this is not particularly innovative, I still think it is a question worth investigation. In fact, it produced some interesting responses;

  1. as long as schools blindly respond to the demands of the market (tests) there is no better word than industry 😉

the fact many language schools are run by business people rather than educators doesn’t help either.

I’d never thought of the two being in opposition before.

Looking at how schools are run today, cuts in govt budgets & the discrepancies in policies, ‘industry’ sadly still suits it better

The word ‘industry‘ conjures up certain images in my mind. Workers churning out products to be sold to the masses, low paid workers and high paid owners, profit over working conditions and a top-down hierarchical structure. The connotation is a negative one and if you look carefully on the Macmillan dictionary website, one of the definitions states;

 an activity or business that has become very successful, especially one that you think makes an unfair profit or is not necessary (macmillandictionary.com)

While the ELT profession is necessary, the point of this post is not to call for a dismantling of the ‘industry‘ and the toppling of big name publishers in order to distribute the wealth. What I would simply advise is this; stop using the word ‘industry’ among ourselves. Stop using it in conversations, conferences, blog posts and books. Instead, replace it with the word, profession. Look at yourselves as professionals and as individuals who serve yourself and your students. If we want to be taken seriously, to be given the respect we deserve and be a part of more than just another ‘industry’, we must change how we are viewed. A change of mindset and vocabulary can do wonderful things.

a job that you need special skills and qualifications to do, especially one with high social status

 Definition of ‘Profession‘ taken from macmillandictionary.com

Advertisements

11 thoughts on “The Industry and the damage done

    • Hi Emma,

      Thanks for taking the time to comment.

      Only we can change the way we are viewed. Change comes from within and even the smallest changes can make a difference.

      Adam

      • I think that change needs to come from employers and working conditions. Most teachers, or many, are treated like factory workers on a teaching conveyor belt. you can be professional within that but calling it a profession means overlooking the many things that need to change which perhaps teachers should take action against but can’t change themselves eg low pay, zero hours, unpaid prep etc, no sick leave, holidays, pension.

  1. Hi Adam,

    I attended Saturdays conference, sorry we didn’t get the chance to catch up. Your provocative tweet should have gone into the mix to win the ipad mini! As it stands, I feel the role of an EFT professional does exist among teachers. The majority of us are serious professionals with both qualifications, experience and above all a passion for what we do. We are however, currently caught in the whirlwind of the ELT Industry. It is definitely time to change the way we speak and, from the bottom up, make this the positive profession it threatens to be!

    • Hi Myles,

      Thanks for the kind comments. It’s good to know that other people feel the same way. I think the three key things you mention are how serious we are, the qualifications we hold and the experience we have. These are the things that allow ELT to function and we the workers possess them. This should be our leverage to fight for what we are worth and bring about change, as you say, from the bottom up.

  2. At IATEFL, Anthony Gaughan brought up a similar point when talking about ‘quality’ in teacher training. That could be intepreted as ‘industrial quality’ which implies uniformity defined by those at a higher level or it could be ‘artisan quality’ with the idea of creativity and diversity. I know which one I would prefer…

    • Hi Dave,

      Thanks for the comment. It is hard to ever disagree with Anthony and he is spot on here with his quote. Thanks for sharing that. I like the term ‘industrial quality’, I might have to use that.

  3. I think that change needs to come from employers and working conditions. Most teachers, or many, are treated like factory workers on a teaching conveyor belt. you can be professional within that but calling it a profession means overlooking the many things that need to change which perhaps teachers should take action against but can’t change themselves eg low pay, zero hours, unpaid prep etc, no sick leave, holidays, pension.

    • Then maybe the question is to ask teachers how they prefer to be labelled? This would then perhaps direct their attention to the fact that they are treated as ‘factory workers’ rather than as professionals and whether they are happy to remain as such. Paulo Freire writes “reflection – true reflection – leads to action.” We ask our students to reflect on their learning, we reflect on our teaching but we don’t reflect enough on our working environment and conditions.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s