Axiological Options of High-School Teachers – a Comparative Analysis

Abstract

The quality of human model represented by every teacher is closely connected and determined by the teacher’s implicit axiological system, deeply rooted in his character structure, which he explicitly manifests in action, through his entire conduct. Both forms of manifestations are essentially determined by the education received.The aim of our study was to develop an axiological model for the set of values that express high-school teachers' pedagogical ethos.The research uses the questionnaire-based inquiry method. The research group comprises 300 high-school teachers, representing two counties of Romania, Bacău and Prahova. To achieve its purpose, there was applied a double comparative analysis: 1st order comparative analysis, interregional comparative study between the axiomatic sets identified for each subgroup of teachers to establish the relations between the values identified for the two groups of teachers; elaboration of the axiological model for the set of values that express the high-school teachers' pedagogical ethos; 2nd order comparative analysis, educational intra-system comparative study on the axiological system of secondary-school teachers (highlighted by us in a previous study) and that of highschool teachers (to see if there are significant differences between the values shared by teachers at the two stages of the pre-university educational system).

Keywords: Valueaxiological systemhigh-school teachersinitial and continuous training

1.Introduction -The high-school teacher and the values he/she holds – between parallel mirrors

Whenever we try to analyse the axiological stance of a teacher, especially of high-school teachers

(because he finds himself face-to-face with a young teenager who is tormented, curious, undecided on the

doorstep of choices, who may become anything but does not know yet exactly what to become!), our

representation resembles a huge room with parallel mirrors. These mediate the relation between teacher

and world, teacher and students, teacher and culture, teacher and himself. Fascinated by the fervour of the

values he holds, by the light poured by the mirrors and the universes that are set into motion at the

protagonists’ meeting, he forgets the impact that his own axiological anchors have upon his students. But,

“only the teacher who possesses a strong life-purpose basis is capable to focus learners on searching

meaning of life while working with them” (Salikhova, 2016). Thus, any moment of awareness, analysis

and reflection on his own system of values can only be beneficial. The transition of values (known –

unknown, conscious - unconscious, assumed - not assumed) from teacher to his students, may be

correlatively approached from two perspectives: explicit (direct, deliberate, organized) and implicit

(indirect, unintentional, unorganized). The former perspective involves training (teaching-learning) and

education, knowledge, strategy, design, implementation, and, if possible, a bit of pedagogical calling,

talent, persuasion. The latter perspective is only about education, transfer of values, simple formative

impact that occurs in teaching. In any of these (explicit curriculum and implicit curriculum), the transfer is

values-laden (Brady, 2011) in a manner that combines the personal with the social dimension in a way

that differs from one teacher to another. The interesting and complementary analyses developed by Albu

(2016), Mogonea&Mogonea (2015), Çelebi, (2014), Harecker (2012), Panti&Wubbels (2012), Collinson

(2012), Brady (2011), Tirri (2011), Sirin&all (2009), Lovat ( 2008), Slater (2008), Kohn, A. (1997) cover

the various facets of the issue of teachers’ axiological universe, also revealing, simultaneously, its

complexity and depth.

2.Research Methodology

2.1.Aim, Research Questions, Objectives

The conducted ascertaining-comparative research aims to verify the existence of a proper set of

values supporting and orienting the high-school teaching process, as well as itsrelations with the specific

set of values of middle-school teachers. Research question 1 : Is the set of values specific to high-school

teachers from Bacău County confirmed when the sample is doubled by adding a group of 150 high-school

teachers from Prahova County? Research question 2 : Does the set of values specific to high-school

teachers have common elements with the axiological profile of middle-school teachers?

Research objectives and their correlation with the items:

O1: Comparative analysis (high-school teachers from Bacau – HST-B versus teachers from

Prahova County – HST-P) on the first three values guiding the activity of high-school teachers (items

1,4,5,8); O2: Comparative Analysis (HST-B versus HST-P) on the central value for the activity of high-

school teachers (items 2,3,7); O3: Comparative analysis (HST-B versus HST-P) on the model of the

axiological profile of high-school teachers; O4 - Elaborating a final model of the axiological profile of

high-school teachers; O5: The comparative analysis of the axiological profile of middle-school teachers

with that of high-school teachers.

2.2.Methods

The questionnaire was applied July 2015 - March 2016, on 2x150 high-school teachers from the

counties of Bacău, respectively Prahova. The groups were established by random sampling. The data

collection tool was a questionnaire with 8 open-ended items. For the items that required a hierarchization

of the options, the score of each value was as follows: 3 points for the first position, 2 points for the

second position; 1 point for the third position.The syntagm teachers’ values was used (like in our previous

studies on this topic, since 2012) to refer to general values, purpose-values, namely what teachers cherish,

regard as worthy, relevant, desirable at a higher level.

3.Presentation and Analysis of Results

To achieve O1 ; the subjects had to answer to:I1:“The first three values in which I mostly believe

are...”; I4:“I believe that, nowadays, the most dangerous counter-values are...”; I5:“I believe that the

fundamental values which pre-university education should inculcate to students nowadays are...”; I8:“The

future society needs the following three values...” Table 1 is a systematized comparative representation of

the collected data (B means HST-B, P means HST-P):

Table 1 -
See Full Size >

Data from Table 1 shows that: 1. According to O1, we have succeeded in the comparative analysis

of the data obtained from the 2 groups of teachers and we have identified only one, not three, values that

guide the activity of high-school teachers: fairness ; 2. Data provided by HST-P confirm the extremely

high importance given to fairness, amplifying this value from two options given by HST-B to the 3

options, the possible maximum; 3. We appreciate, as in the previous analysis (Cojocariu, 2016) as

extremely interesting and relevant the obsessive predominance of the value of fairness as moral value for

the axiological universe of teachers in Romania; 4. The fact that the rank I, II and III value is the same,

fairness , is a very good indication about the acute need for morality and the depth of the crisis of values,

felt by the world of teachers, students and parents alike.

To achieve O2 ; the subjects answered to: I2: “In relation to my work, the value which concerns me

most is...”; I3:“I believe that the most important value for a teacher’s activity is...”; I7:“I believe that the

value which will always preserve (save) humankind is....”Table 2 is a systematized comparative

representation of the collected data (B means HST-B, P means HST-P):

Table 2 -
See Full Size >

The data from Table 2 shows that: 1. According to O2, we analysed and compared the central

value for the activity of high-school teachers selected by the 2 groups of teachers; 2. This value is

fairness , again, gathering 84 options (28%), the highest number of options as rank I value; 3. This result

confirms and strengthens the data obtained in the first study on the values of high-school teachers, where,

as a central value, fairness gathered 38 options (25.33%) from the group of 150 teachers from Bacău

County (Cojocariu, 2016); 4. The value obtained is not only in line with the value obtained from previous

items integrated in O1, but is actually the same; 5. It is obvious that the 300 high-school teachers from the

two counties share the axis of their value systems, namely the value of fairness; 6. Although it is a central

rank II, respectively rank III value, faith in God obtains the same score in both groups, 13 options

(4.33%), which illustrates that, in an equal proportion, although reduced, the high-school teachers from

the two groups keep the religious value alive;7. Other values that obtained the appreciation of teachers in

this context are: education (6.33%) (at the B group) (rank I central value) and 4.00% also at them, as rank

III central value; love for people (4.66%) (atP) (rank I central value); love for people (5.00%) (atB) (rank

II central value); responsibility and competence, each with 3.33% (at P) (rank III central value); 8.From

the 18 values with only one nomination (0.33%) of those received from the HST-B, we regard as

interesting the following: freedom, creativity, transparency, cooperation, trust, modesty. Of the 12 values

with one nomination received from the HST-P, we mention: dignity, common sense, generosity,

humanism, peace. Within certain limits, we believe that given the one option only for these values, it may

be possible that they are represented less and less in the axiological system of teachers and, why not, on

the brink of extinction. Which would be extremely dangerous!

I6 –“If tomorrow were my last meeting with my students, I would address them, as a final

message, the idea…” yielded a great diversity and heterogeneity of answers, making it difficult to analyse

and compare data qualitatively. The first value directions indicated by the messages of high-school

teachers are the following: 1. learning – 26 (8.6%) of the messages contain the word ‘learn’ for HST-B

and 35 (11.66%) for HST-P, a total of 61 (20.33%). There are messages that support the need to learn,

propelling it towards the level of training: Learn so that you may become worthy people! The more you

learn, the more you’ll have! Learn to become worthy people! 2. perseverance – 16 messages (5.33%)at

HST-B and11messages (3.66%) at HST-P, a total of 27 (9.00%) – Life is a battle, therefore fight!, Do not

allow yourselves to be defeated by hardships on your road to success! Every victory will make you better,

every defeat will make you prepare better!; 3. work - 13 messages (4.33%), humanism 9 messages

(3.00%) HST-P; dignity and education – 8 messages each (2.66%),at HST-B -Education provides your

future!;4. There are statements that highlight unique values: cherishing values – Cultivate the values you

cherish most!; valiance - Dare! Nothing is impossible!; change – Be open to change!; generosity – By

giving you will receive! at HST-B; optimism - Be optimistic!; respect –Respect to be respected in turn!;

truth –Choose truth!at HST-P. These data enrich and diversify the central values identified above,

depending on the profile of each teacher, reconfirming our previous findings on the prevalence (relatively

natural!) of moral values in the axiological universe of teachers in general.

To achieve O3 , we have comparatively analysed the final results from Tables 1 and 2 .

a. The first dimension – O1 –the first three values in which high-school teachers believe – is found on

the Total row in Table 1 . It results that for HST-B, the first 3 values they cherish are: rank I- respect

(159p); rank II - fairness (76p); rank III - fairness (78p). For HST-P, the first 3 values cherished are: rank

I – fairness (309p); rank II – respect – (56); rank III - fairness (54p). Figure 1 shows a comparative

representation of these values for HST-Band HST-P.

Figure 1: Comparative representation of the anchor-values of the axiological set of high-school teachers (left - HST-B, right- HST-P )
Comparative representation of the anchor-values of the axiological set of high-school teachers (left - HST-B, right- HST-P )
See Full Size >

We appreciate as interesting the reversal of the first 2 anchor values, respect and fairness, in the

profiles of both categories of teachers, however with quite different scores and the identification of the

same rank III value, fairness. For our comparative analysis, it is very important that we have found the

same values, even if on different positions and with different percentages (which is, in fact, a sign of

normality).

b. The second dimension - O2 - a central value for the activity of high-school teachers - is found

on the row Total in Table 2 . It results that for all the high-school teachers investigated, the cherished

central value is the same – fairness , only with a different number of options (38 versus 46).

To achieve O4 , we have combined the previous comparative analysis results and reached the

representation from Figure 2 of a possible final model of the axiological profile of high-school teachers:

Figure 2: A final possible model of the axiological profile of high-school teachers
A final possible model of the axiological profile of high-school teachers
See Full Size >

What appeared for the first time in the studies we have conducted since 2012 on the values shared

by teachers from the entire education system (preschool, primary, secondary, university, including

students who train for the teaching career) is the full overlapping between the 3 anchor-values (fairness)

and, subsequently, placing it as the central value. Virtually, the axiological universe of high-school

teachers is dominated by, and merges with this value.

To achieve O5 , we have proceeded to a comparative analysis of this model with the model

developed by us in a previous study (Cojocariu, 2015). The data obtained are presented comparatively in Table 3.

Figure 3: Comparative analysis of the anchor-values and central values characteristic of the axiological profile of middle-school teachers and high-school teachers
Comparative analysis of the anchor-values and central values characteristic of the axiological profile of middle-school teachers and high-school teachers
See Full Size >

deal of fairness. Although mathematically and graphically the models do not overlap explicitly on any of

their segments (anchor-values, central value), in reality (in the educational-instructional activities in

which middle-school and high-school teachers operate with the values they cerish on a daily basis) the

two models are complementary.

4.Conclusions

Our entire teaching and research activity relies on the assumption that the teacher’s socio-moral

worth is given by the set of values in which he believes, that he applies in every moment of his activity

and that he turns into both beliefs and action vectors for himself and for his students alike. Although in

Romania Values Education is not an established domain like in other educational systems (e.g. Australia),

it is achieved, like many other segments of Romanian contemporary education, implicitly. There is no

denying that with the content of the school subjects taught and with his whole conduct in the classroom,

the teacher transfers values: work, respect, tenacity, love of people, truth, professionalism, empathy,

generosity, tolerance. School is not free of values or a social engagement and educational area that is

axiologically neutral (Lovat, 2008). It results that the teacher’s role in the personal, social and

professional development of students is growing, a fact increasingly recognized and confirmed by the

results of specialized studies (idem). On this basis, the teacher leads his students into going beyond

superficial learning, in order to reach learning “that engages the whole person in depth of cognition,

social and emotional maturity, and self-knowledge” (idem).The conclusions drawn from our approach

are:

1. All the objectives were achieved : O1: There was developed a comparative analysis (high-school

teachers fromBacău (HST-B) versus those from Prahova County (HST-P) on the first three values

guiding the activity of high-school teachers. This highlighted, as shown in Table 1 and Figure 1 , a great

similarity between the anchor-values cherished by them. The values of respect and fairness are combined,

with different positions and shares, in their axiological profile; O2: There was performed a comparative

analysis (HST-B versus HST-P) on the central value for the activity of high-school teachers. It led to the

establishment of a common core value, fairness (Table 2 ); O3: There was performed a comparative

analysis (HST-B versus HST-P) on a model of the axiological profile of high-school teachers. The results

revealed that the two models elaborated for the 2 groups of high-school teachers do not have significant

differences, being convergent on the values of respect and fairness, as anchor-values, Figure 1 , and the

value of fairness as central value, Table 2 ; O4 –There was outlined a possible final model of the

axiological profile of high-school teachers, Figure 2 ; O5: There was performed a comparative analysis of

the axiological profile of middle-school teachers and that of high-school teachers, Table 3. The results

indicate a significant difference between the 2 value reports of these categories of teachers. Whereas for

the middle-school teachers there are 3/4 anchor-values (respect, hard work, respect and education) and

another central value (professionalism), for high-school teachers there is only one value, 3 times an

anchor-value but, simultaneously, also central value, namely fairness.2. There were formulated different

answers to the research questions . For the research question 1 , the answer is affirmative, the set of values

of high-school teachers from Bacăucountyhas been confirmed when adding a group of 150 high-school

teachers from Prahova county to the research group. There was formulated a negative answer to the

research question 2 : No, the specific set of values of high-school teachers shares no element with the

axiological profile of middle-school teachers.3. The axiological profile of high-school teachers is

structured in a very interesting way, around a single value, fairness . 4. This study gives us important and

exciting milestones in continuing our efforts to develop a general axiological model of teachers at the

level of our educational system. All our future comparative analyses will consider the absolutely specific

case of high-school teachers, deeply quartered into one single value, fairness.5. All the data gathered

during the 5 years of studies on the axiological universe of teachers in Romania reconfirms the need for a

solid axiological component in the initial and continuous training of teachers. This may be a course onthe

axiology of education (but not necessarily) or training for meta reflection. Teachers rarely make the effort

to self-evaluate the values in which they believe/that they give/receive and how the learning contents

correlate with the axiological universe. Perhaps if they did it more often, they would be surprised to find

how many significant values are hidden in everyday school contents. They just need to be identified,

highlighted and processed through the prism of the teacher’s own values and offered to students for

cultivation.6. Other practical consequences that can be developed based on this study are: to identify the

axiological differences between students and teachers at the various stages of the educational system; to

identify the main axiological obstacles between generations; to establish correlations between the

axiological option and addressing conflicts in education; the transfer of values from students to teachers;

the development and implementation of optional subjects in the domain of axiology, based on the

suggestions collected from pupils/students: Values education; My axiological system; Values and non-

values in art; The kitsch and the authentic values; Classic and modern (Mogonea&Mogonea, 2015). Such

themes could also be the basis for various debates, workshops, meetings with scientists, artists, engineers,

athletes.

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Publisher

Future Academy

First Online

18.12.2019

Doi

10.15405/epsbs.2017.05.02.81

Online ISSN

2357-1330