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‘Teachers’ status has rocketed’: Professor Donna Pendergast – Podcast

Since COVID-19 entered our lives, the importance of jobs we once might have considered less desirable or important has changed dramatically. As well as our front line retail workers, teachers are experiencing a renaissance in terms of recognition and the importance we attach to the profession.

To speak about this shift in the community's mindset, as well as a number of other key issues of the moment, we spoke to Professor Donna Pendergast, Dean and Head of the School of Education and Professional Studies at Griffith University and a member of the Australian Association for Research in Education (AARE).

The education expert attributes this reappraisal of teachers' status to the fact that "teachers' work became more visible" to parents and the wider community during the first shutdown, as well as a recognition of the profession's complexity. She also refers to the excellent job teachers performed and continue to perform as this pandemic continues.

As she puts it: "There was this amazing workforce around the nation keeping things happening."

On the topic of remote learning, Pendergast asserts that "it can be as good as" classroom learning in an academic sense, but students still need school environments to experience "the hidden curriculum" – skills we learn through interactions at school such as empathy and social interaction skills. We're not there yet, she argues.

Finally, one of the silver linings of this pandemic experience for the academic is that it has reinvigorated an interest in teaching, stating that Griffith University's mid-year intake for education courses "did jump quite significantly".

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