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In Memoriam: Understanding Teaching as Public Service


by David Blacker — August 12, 2002

September 11 poignantly illustrates the centrality to our democracy of public servants, including teachers. It also dramatizes how "public servant" is an ennobling and descriptively convincing occupational identity that teachers should wholeheartedly embrace. In doing so, teachers place themselves more squarely alongside other democratic "keystone" occupations such as nursing, firefighting, policing, EMT/paramedics, social workers, and librarians. This paper makes a descriptive case for the accuracy of the phrase "public servant" and also a normative case for why it is more compelling than alternatives such as "professional." Seeing teaching as more clearly situated alongside other public service occupations helps us take clearer stock of why, in the end, we value our teachers and how they remain structurally integral to democracy


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record, Date Published: August 12, 2002
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 11010, Date Accessed: 6/27/2017 8:22:01 PM

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About the Author
  • David Blacker
    University of Delaware
    E-mail Author
    DAVID BLACKER is an associate professor in the School of Education at the University of Delaware. He is the author of Dying to Teach: The Educator's Search for Immortality (Teachers College Press, 1997). His work on moral and political aspects of education has appeared in journals such as the American Journal of Education, Educational Theory, and the Journal of Philosophy of Education. He is currently at work on a book about educational institutions and social justice.
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