Professionalization & futurology

To suggest that the professionalization of adult basic skills teaching is impossible is to engage in futurology.

It assumes that the outcome of and response to a complex process can be predicted. There are no templates upon which to base any predictions.

What is distinct about the process for adult basic skills teachers is that the process is policy driven rather than practitioner driven. And that on other instances where a professionalization process ha been policy driven it is most often associated with a loss of status or autonomy. The autonomy enjoyed by basic skills practitioners was a marginalised autonomy. The abiding image is of the portakabin in college car park, few knew and fewer cared what went on there. It was a useful ‘dumping’ ground for college no hopers. Practice developed in this space of relative freedom.

But this is not the autonomy enjoyed by those who experience the glare of publicity attendant to becoming a ‘government priority’ is a loss of status and imposition of control. There are then aspects of the professionalization of basic skills teaching that are welcome. Not least of all years of unprecedented public investment. But there are also costs.

What I can assert with confidence is that the professionalization of basic skills teaching may be possible, but it is also fraught with tensions, constraints and ambiguities.

These ambiguities amount to a rescripting, the abandonment of the hallmarks of basic skills practice, I next consider whether this professionalization process is desirable.


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