In the movie, “Coach Carter”, Ken Carter accepted the job to coach the basketball team of his past high school, Richmond High. The high school was in a poorly developed community in Richmond, California, and the coach faced several challenges in trying to improve his basketball team’s academic performance and getting them to be undefeated basketball champions. His methodology was different from what the students, community members and staff were used to, hence, he received resistance from those parties. However, coach Carter later got the support from his basketball team and the school’s principal, making his job easier to accomplish.
1. Discuss how two (2) factors in the movie/article could negatively impact teacher professionalism. (6marks)
Two factors highlighted in the movie that could negatively impact teacher professionalism were socioeconomic status and professional conduct.
According to dictionary.com, socioeconomic status is an individual’s or group’s position within a hierarchical social structure. (dictionary.com, n.d.). Socioeconomic status also incorporates quality of life attributes as well as the opportunities and privileges rendered to people within society. (American Psychological Association, 2018). A research on how socioeconomic status affects child development and learning showcases that children from low socioeconomic status often manifest behavioural problems related to learning, while those of high SES are less likely to showcase such behaviour. (Morgan, Farkas, Hillemeier & Maczuga, 2009). In the movie, the students of Richmond High were strongly affected by low socioeconomic status based on the community in which they lived. Thus, their standard of living was poor, and some members of the basketball team were affiliated with a gang in order to make earnings.
The impudent demeanour the students showcased was one evidence of the SES of their society. Their behaviour could be caused by the strain of trying to maintain their family while attending school which normally results in poor academic performance. (Young, 2018) Ken Carter realized the struggle the students were facing and tried to impose methods he thought would bring improvement to their lives. The basketball team however did not approve of his methodology and showcased their insolent behaviour to authority.
Professionalism can be defined as the conduct, aims or qualities that characterize or mark a profession or professional person. (Porcupile, 2015). Based on this definition of professionalism, it conveys that persons of a specific profession are to go by specific guidelines regarding that profession. Socioeconomic status could negatively affect teacher professionalism when the educational institution in a society that has low SES is under resourced, which causes added problems to the teacher. The teacher should be viewed as a role model to help motivate child learning in schools, but this is challenging to do without the necessary resources and support from community members and colleagues. This was evident in the movie when coach Carter laid out standards for the boys to follow but had difficulty in doing so because of the lack of resources and support given by the board of management. They believed that because the school was of low academic standing, the coach could do nothing to help improve the boys’ academic performance as well as their game. This could lead to discouragement of the teacher and reduce their quality of work and lead to frustration which may result in aggressive behaviour from the teacher who is inexperienced. Those students of low SES in societies who are in allegiance with gangs could also endanger the educator’s life and cause a change in how they conduct themselves while on/off the job. The educator would have to showcase an air of militancy in order to safeguard themselves from possible gang violence. Coach Carter realized the environment he was in and those who were in his surroundings, therefore he portrayed militancy which came across as being aggressive to his students. He may have pushed the militancy too far when he attacked the community member after they were disrespectful to him.
Poor professional conduct is another factor that could negatively affect teacher professionalism. A code of professional conduct is a needed component to any given profession to maintain standards for the individual of the profession to adhere. It brings about accountability, responsibility and trust to the individuals that the profession serves. (Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, n.d.). Individuals of a given profession are responsible to adhere to the guidelines of the professional code of conduct that outlines how they ought to behave and react to issues of conflict and harassment. Coach Carter did not abide by the guidelines of the code of conduct and this was shown in the movie based on how he reacted to the given situations he was faced with. The way he spoke to the principal and basketball team was reflecting poor professional conduct and this reflects badly on teacher professionalism. He became frustrated at a point in time after receiving resistance from board of management, basketball team and community members, and was disrespectful to them in return. An educator is characterized by being respectful and maintaining a calm composure when faced with various life situations, but his conduct acted against teacher professionalism.
2. Based on your review of the movie/article discuss two (2) recommendations as to how the factors cited above could positively impact teacher professionalism in the Jamaican context. (6 marks)
Socioeconomic status could positively impact teacher professionalism in a way where role modelling, that is characterized with teacher professionalism can be depicted. Persons from low socioeconomic status are believed to be emotionally, socially, physically, academically and mentally troubled. The teacher in the Jamaican context can now be the person the child can look up to for motivation and guide in society. They are most times left alone to their own demise, but the teacher could build a relationship with the child in order to instil positive morals and attitudes that can lead to improvement in academics and behaviour. In Jamaica, the “ghetto” is considered a place of low socioeconomic status where gang violence and school dropouts are prevalent due to the socioeconomic standing of the society. When the teacher builds an authentic relationship with the student, he/she is better able to understand the reason for the child’s behaviour and find a suitable method of solving that problem. The teacher could also be that backbone needed in the child’s life to sustain their emotional life that also contributes to their learning.
Professional conduct positively impacts teacher professionalism as it increases the respect awarded to individuals of the profession. In Jamaica, students treat teachers without respect based on their poor professional conduct. Qualities and conduct associated with educators have not been displayed among the modern teachers, thus lowering the value of the profession. If modern teachers would exhibit the code of professional conduct in their everyday lives, the negative shadows clouding the profession would fade and the respect that was there would dominate once more. The modern teacher would now be expected to dress appropriately, be respectful to students and colleagues, be confidential, avoid causing embarrassment upon students and colleagues, and adhere to the rules and regulations set by the institution. Teaching would then be viewed as a profession no longer looked down upon.