Headlines: September 14th, 2005

An in-depth study released today finds that the majority of teachers get high levels of enjoyment from their jobs, which the researchers say confirms that past perceptions of teachers facing a daily grind have been overturned. The report has been compiled by psychologists who were sent into classrooms in a variety of schools around the country.The study, commissioned by the Training and Development Agency for Schools, found twice as many teachers find their work extremely enjoyable – the highest rating they could give – compared to professionals with careers in marketing, IT and accountancy. The teachers involved in the research broke into a smile an average of 10 times every half an hour, had two-way banter with children five times and laughed aloud four times during the same period.

The psychologists looked into which jobs are most likely to cause ‘optimal flow experience’. This is a concept identified by American academic Professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi one of the founders of the Positive Psychology movement. It measures enjoyment, concentration and absorption in a task and is increasingly recognised by psychologists and management experts.

Today’s study shows that teachers are more likely to experience these enjoyable ‘highs’ than people working in comparable careers. Forty-four per cent of teachers said they experienced this regularly compared with 34 per cent of people in other professions. More than six in ten teachers also reported often or always finding themselves totally immersed in their work. One in five said they never thought about anything other than the job at hand.

As part of the study, which was conducted by CrossLight Management Ltd during June and July this year, teachers were asked to keep diaries assessing their levels of ‘flow’ during lessons, and their mood afterwards. These revealed high levels of alertness and happiness during the day. Teachers interviewed by the researchers said many factors made their jobs enjoyable, including the buzz around the corridors, working with young people, satisfaction gained from pupils’ feedback and the nature of the school year. Engaging with young people was the single biggest reason for staff finding teaching is enjoyable with 80 per cent saying this was the best aspect of the job.

Graham Holley, the Executive Director at the TDA said understanding more about what specifically made teaching job enjoyable was crucial to the agency’s recruitment drive as it needed to ensure that teaching remained the top career choice for high calibre graduates, particularly those qualified in maths, science and languages.