Professing Education


The Nature of Professing

By Alan H. Jones

Caddo Gap Press

What is professing? How is it best understood and described? Is it the work of professors alone, or can others take part as well? Let's grant that professing is traditionally something done by those who hold teaching positions, or professorships, at institutions of postsecondary education _ at colleges and universities, where instruction is offered to undergraduate and graduate students. Professing in this setting, in addition to teaching, involves research, writing, and a variety of public service. For those professors in the field of education, it involves, most appropriately, service with teachers and administrators in the public schools at all levels.

This work of professors is, in my opinion, one of the most fascinating _ perhaps the most fascinating _ of careers. It is innately creative, exciting, and rewarding. It is also very hard work. Teaching at all levels is challenging. It always requires thorough preparation and continual flexibility, especially in a field such as education, where teachers and students alike _ those who prepare teachers and those who will be teachers _ are under constant criticism and attack. The other work of professing _ the research, writing, and service _ requires long hours, great detail, and the sort of creativity needed to develop new ideas, along with perseverance and fortitude to shoulder the burden of the constant pressure of doubts, questions, and criticism. So, in total, the role of the professor holds great possibility for accomplishment and satisfaction within an arena of uncertainty, pressure, and negativity.

While those who profess are most commonly college and university faculty, occasionally others are able to share in this special activity. In a variety of disciplines and fields colleagues and collaborators from the world of practice are invited to teach some postsecondary courses, and in the field of education this typically evolves in partnership schools where the worlds of theory and practice are combined and exchanged. The world of professing also reaches into many arts and literary fields, drawing music, dance, video, film, and writing, academy out into those fields.

In my personal case I spent, a few decades ago, several years as a professor of education, at three different universities, after which I returned to my original university for additional post-doctoral study and research. Following that I spent time as a state educational consultant, a staff member with the American Association of University Professors, and an institutional researcher. For the past 25 years I have served as an educational editor and publisher, the last 15 years owning and operating my own company. Along with the work of my small two-person publishing house, Caddo Gap Press, I currently also teach one course most semesters at a neighboring university, participate in activities and committees of several educational associations, and serve as the executive director of a statewide organization of professors of teacher education. So I profess regularly, both at the local university, in the field of education, and in my publishing work.

I feel fortunate and privileged to be able to consider myself a professor of education, to be one of those who professes. I do so in my publishing work as I read, review, select, revise, edit, and publish the work of my professorial colleagues, and I do so in my teaching, my research, my own writing, and my service to and among those same professorial colleagues. It is good work to be involved in, done with great company, done because it is something one feels called to. I thank all of those colleagues who allow me in these ways to be part of the professing community.