06 February 2014

Is teaching a vocation or profession?

A reflection for the Open Content Licencing for Educators mOOC

Is teaching a vocation or profession? - It’s not either/or, rather – both/and.

Vocation assumes a call, being called for doing something. In the world where there are better paid jobs and much more comfortable and prestigious trades – this will differ from society to society, of course – teaching hardly ever is the most attractive option. However, some people do feel the desire for sharing their own knowledge and wisdom, for being nurturing towards others. People engaged in activities to which they are called transcend a mere work for reward exchange: they engage fuller, can be happy to go extra mile and bring in more than their knowledge and experience, but “a heart” – a certain caring-for-the-cause and imaginative attitude. That’s what we normally associate good teachers with – someone who doesn’t give up easily, who sees in learners more than said on the tin, who is passionate about what s/he is talking about.

Teaching is a profession in a sense that it requires rigor as related to science, art or trade; hence professional knowledge, growth, ethics. In that sense, profession is not in opposition to vocation – both may come along. Therefore it is perfectly possible to say: teaching is my real vocation and I am glad I’ve chose this profession; I feel passionately about it, but it is not the only reason why I am a good teacher – I also know by subject extremely well.

When people ask me whether I enjoy my job, I often say that librarianship is a wonderful profession and my college – a very good place to be at. When training I had no idea that librarians were also educators; my focus then was on arranging data, promoting causes, creating spaces, finding information gems. Now it’s different: meeting users’ needs and even developing their hunger for more is what really excites me. We all have been indoctrinated to think about books when we hear a word “library”. In reality, the most important thing in the library is people. The more I realised that, the more I have been enjoying being a librarian; and a better librarian I was becoming. Vocation and profession are two sides of the same coin.  

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