Professional Inertia', article by a teacher and research scholar

By: Admin 20 October, 2017

At one time or other, many professionals experience that monotony and lack of excitement in their daily routine. But teaching is supposed to be an exception in this regard as needs and modes of functioning of a teacher are in a constant flux as far as the rapid changes in all walks of life and consequent educational demands of the modern society is concerned. There is no room for monotony in the professional space of a teacher. However, some teachers remain oblivious to these changes and demands and they stick to their old outdated methods of teaching and relating to the students. In other words, in teaching too, there is no dearth for comfort zones in which teachers would like to bask.


Reasons for the erosion of growth mindset among professionals apart, there are effective ways to bring back teacher’s inquisitive and explorative mind into an active mode. In-service courses, though, serve this purpose to some extent. But, being in a mandatory framework, a teacher attending these courses need not have enough motivation to make a deliberate attempt to build upon the knowledge he/she gained from formal settings of in-service course.




For example, for the past 17 years, I was a math teacher and I attended many in-service courses. But most of the novel instructions I got during the training hours never got translated into actual classroom experiences. For example, instructions I received for implementing CCE (Comprehensive Continuous Evaluation) of the students was recordically implemented but in reality, it was a sluggish attempt to conform to the mandatory requirements. (Visit the link to know more about a recent in-service course conducted for teachers in Kerala)



Barriers for developing a growth mindset and sustained effort among professionals


What emerges as a barrier to the attempts made to elicit a sustained effort from the part of professionals to veer the educational system of a society towards desirable changes? Though it is difficult to answer this question quite objectively, if we closely analyze the professional space from a wider perspective these barriers can be classified into three categories depending on their direct or indirect impact on the growth mindset of a teaching professional. Some of the characteristics (not all) that come under each category have been indicated for reader’s clarity.


1. Personal barriers

  • Lack of work-life balance.

  • Absence of a habit of updating oneself by reading and researching on a daily basis.

  • The absence of that innate disposition to commit oneself to lifelong learning.

  • Lack of clarity of the nature of changes taking place in the society and lack of awareness about the kind of actions one must be involved in for equipping oneself for the same.


2. Organizational barriers

  • The organizational climate which does not encourage novelty and out of box thinking.

  • Flaws in organizational leadership which fail to garner that collective working force to thrust forward actions for change.

  • Various kinds of discriminations (communal, gender etc) thriving in the organizational climate, which hampers even the scant chances for a collective movement.

  • Pre-disposition for a result-oriented organizational decision-making process (e.g. examination oriented school activities) which freezes the fundamental aim of teaching---the overall development of students.

  • The absence of facilities in the organization to assess working personnel objectively to ensure they are keeping pace with the requirements of changes.


3. Policies as barriers

  • Inappropriate educational policies which incessantly beget never-ending series of mismatches among issues operating at micro-macro levels thereby creating an ever-widening chasm between the policies and their implementation.

  • Inability of policymakers to see the whole picture and weigh the practicability of policies against realities

  • Lopsided educational policies resulting from the lack of in-depth, meticulous analysis done usually by perusing the research findings in all areas related to education.

  • As in any other field, the absence of accountability and transparency at the level of policy formation and implementation generate loopholes. The divisive aims of miscreants and profit-oriented individuals at the helm of the department of education thrive on these loopholes.



Periodic evaluation-- a panacea for professional inertia


Periodic, objective evaluation carried out at personal, organizational and policy levels can root out professional inertia to a great extent.


  • An evaluation carried out at personal level must ensure that a teaching professional has committed herself to personal growth. Evaluation should focus on the pieces of evidence for teacher novelty. It might be in the form of a research report, or a published article in a leading teaching magazine or certificate of a workshop attended or paper presented at a conference or even a manual report of the initiative a teacher has taken in her school premises.


  • Evaluation at organizational level must be structured. Standards used for assessing educational institutions in a geographical area/locality must be unique and more or less same. And it must focus on ensuring that the organization is gradually clearing off all the obstacles that come in the way of personal attempts to move forward in the journey towards better change.


  • Assessing the transparency and accountability of policy-making wing must be made by a legal body while the effectiveness and practicability of policies must be periodically assessed by various research organizations. Ineffective or lopsided policies must undergo constant revision and should be subject to corrective measures. No generation must be a victim of wrong policies put forward by ruling machinery.





About the author:


Jeny Rapheal


A higher secondary school teacher with around 17 years of experience in teaching. Also, a research scholar in psychology enrolled in Bharathiar University, Coimbatore.

She has published 18 research papers in various national and international journals.