Could not download file: This paper is available to authorised users only.


E. Kass

Achva Academic College (ISRAEL)
Teaching is a complex and demanding profession; in many countries it carries neither prestige nor remunerative value. Consequently, it is somewhat surprising when highly capable students, some of whom had first chosen a more prestigious career such as law or medicine, decide to pursue a career in education. This raises the question: are there subconscious motives at work and, if so, what are they?

The purpose of the current study was to consider the subconscious motives of excellent students in choosing a teaching career. To understand their internal world, to understand their choice of profession and the socialization processes that take place when they are forging their professional identity, I chose to use the methodology of narrative research. Clandinin & Connelly (1996) spoke of teachers' "secret stories"; the goal of the current study was to discern from these secret stories the hidden motivations.

16 open ended, in-depth interviews lasting approximately 1.5 hours were conducted with each student separately. The interviews were recorded and transcribed. In the interviews I asked the students: "Tel me please your life story". During the interview I wrote to myself painful childhood experiences and memories (Pines, 2002) and looked after the connection to the teaching profession. At the end of each interview session, I disclosed my insights regarding the participant's subconscious motivations for choosing a teaching profession and I asked for the interviewee's reactions. With the exception of one participant who responded that she "needed to think about it", all of the 15 remaining participants expressed their agreement with the insights I had proposed.

Findings confirmed that the choice of a teaching profession might enable a therapeutic process, allowing the students to recover from painful deficiencies experienced in childhood and heal their own wounds of helplessness and insignificance.

Categorizing the experiences of deficiency reported by the participants revealed several types of motives (for some of the participants, there was more than one motive at work).
1. The experience of helplessness and the need to strengthen the sense of self-efficacy.
2. The absence of functioning parents and the need to be the adult in their stead.
3. The search for personal boundaries as markers of identity.
4. The need to belong: Warmth, caring, and individual attention.
5. Compensation for an unjust and humiliating experience in childhood.