Don't mess with primary teachers

MOVE over James Dean, here come the real rebels - middle-aged, female, primary school teachers.

More likely to sport pleated skirts and sensible shoes than leather jackets, new research has found the rebel in the staffroom is no fresh-faced 20-something graduate.

Around Europe, academics are finding that it is teachers midway through their careers who areradical, rebellious and downright bolshie.

Asked in the early 1990s whether teachers should be a moral examplar in society, 15 per cent of 182 newly-qualified Irish teachers agreed - while slightly fewer than 10 per cent felt teachers should be "radical, venturesome and broadminded".

Ten years later, Maureen Killeavy, of University College, Dublin, tracked down the same group and posed the questions again, now 47 per cent agreed teachers should be radical, while those willing to put themselves forward as model citizens dropped to less than 1 per cent.

In the Czech Republic, where the official definition of teacher is an "upholder of change", a study found the largest group of teachers introducing innovations into their classes had 11 to 20 years experience.

The poll of 92 teachers found the most common innovators were middle-aged, female, primary teachers while younger colleagues and those teaching older pupils were more conservative.

"The myth of young teachers being innovative gets rather shattered," explained Dr Petr Novotny, of Masaryk University, Brno.

Teachers and Innovation, opening stage of an exploration of today's practice by Petr Novotny.

Changing perspectives of teachers during the first decade of their career to education, to their experience of classroom teaching and to the professional and societal role of the teacher' by Maureen Killeavy

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