Teachers as professionals: Germany, the United States, bildung, and didaktiks
Overwhelmingly, Americans express that they admire teachers and support public education, yet simultaneously demand greater accountability from and control over them. They argue that teachers are professionals, yet hold them to be technicians. This study explores the historical factors that gave rise to this confusion by examining the histories of the United States and also that of Germany, the model for America’s educational system. The German educational philosophies of bildung and didaktiks are considered, along with the competing ideas of the purpose of education by John Dewey and David Snedden because they do much to explain the past and present of the current state of education in both nations, and clearly show the competing claims at work. Finally, the histories relating to teacher education and the professional standing of teachers in both nations is used to argue for a shift in the perspective of the American teacher, from technician to true professional. This new professional teacher is one that is empowered with authority in the classroom, holds status in the community, and is equitably compensated for the work he or she does. I consider the past to urge action in the future.