Posted: February 16th, 2023

First, read the article, “Professionalizing the Audio-Visual Field.”

Next, answer the following:

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  • Do you feel teaching can be defined as a profession based on the definition provided in this article?
  • Do you agree with this definition of profession?PROFESSIONALIZING THE AUDIO-VISUAL FIELD


    The professionalization of the educational field is a concern of all educators. In this article James D. Finn has undertaken the task of presenting a framework within which audio-visual specialists can work toward such professionalization. It is the first of a series of articles by members of the DAVI Committee on Professional Education on different aspects of this problem.

    Dr. Finn is Associate Professor of Education and Chairman of Audio-Visual Education at the University of Southern California. He is also Chairman of the DAVI Committee on Professional Education.

    Specialization of occupation is a growing social factor in modern life. This factor is as applicable to education as to any other field. Where once there were only teachers, there are now administrators, psychologists, curriculum consultants, counselors, and many other educational specialists. Each of these specialties is developing into a profession within the general profession of education. Educators whose main responsibility lies in the preparation, distribution, and use of audio-visual materials represent another group of specialized personnel newly developed and integrated into the field of education.

    In addition to the fact that people working with audio-visual materials are devoting the major share of their time to a specialized phase of education and are developing special interests, techniques, etc., there is also the fact that the audio-visual field itself is somewhat antique in that it embraces all branches of the communication arts and technology and brings new disciplines to bear upon the problems of education. This second fact makes the audio-visual field even more of a specialized educational activity than, say, the teaching of reading.

    In recent years audio-visual workers have become sensitive to the professional problems of their specialty. Questions have been raised as to the possible degree of professionalization of the movement; as to what, if any, certification requirements should be set up for audio-visual directors, and as to the long-range professional objectives of associations such as the Department of Audio-Visual Instruction of the .NEA (DAVI). DAVI has set up a Committee on Professional Education to study the general problem of professionalization.

    It is the purpose of a series of papers, of which this is the first, to present a study of the problem of professionalization to the membership of DAVI from the Committee on Professional Education. These papers will analyze the present status of the field to determine, if possible, the degree of professionalization that has been developed, to review the historical development of this status, and to suggest some problems that must be met and some possible solutions that might be developed in order to move the field further in the direction of a true profession.

    It is hoped that these studies will stimulate the membership of DAVI and other people working in the field to undertake appropriate action. It is very significant to the

    Committee on Professional Education that this series of papers is inaugurated in the first issue of the professional magazine of the Department of Audio-Visual Instruction.

    Tools of a Profession

    In considering the audio-visual field as a possible area of professionalization, a good place to begin is with the question: What are the characteristics of a profession1? A profession has, at least, these characteristics: (a) an intellectual technique, b) an application of that technique to the practical affairs of man, (c) a period of long training necessary before entering into the profession, (d) an association of the members of the profession into a closely-knit group with a high quality of communication between members, (e) a series of standards and a statement of ethics which is enforced, and (f) an organized body of intellectual theory constantly expanding by research.

    The statements identifying these characteristics need little comment. That a profession is primarily intellectual in character can be readily seen by viewing the activities of any profession; a doctor who did not reflectively think before prescribing is inconceivable. That a profession applies its knowledge directly to the benefit of man is also obvious.

    The long periods of training necessary to develop specialists such as design engineers or oral surgeons are common examples of the third characteristic. Professional associations which began their evolution in the Middle Ages are a part of every civilized society. They identify the members who have successfully passed through the long training stage and, in fact, even control to a great degree the nature of that training. Communication between members of the profession is carried on by meetings, journals of high quality, consultations, and other means.

    Architects, actuaries, engineers all have their codes of conduct or statements of ethics and various forms of standards. Coupled with this ethical formulation is a means of enforcing it in the more highly organized professions. Sometimes this enforcement responsibility rests with the professional association, sometimes with the state as a licensing body, and sometimes with both. Although there is much criticism of many professions at this point and some evidence (11) that many codes are window dressing to protect the profession from public interference and are not enforced except to the advantage of the profession as against the public, the fact remains that the idea of an ethic with the power of enforcement places a personal responsibility on each member of a profession not associated with other types of occupations.

    1The best quick soure on the nature and development of the professions with special reference to the teaching profession may be found in Smith (16). Part Four of this Volume, “The Nature and Status of the Teaching Profession,” contains pertinent articles by A. M. Carr-Saunders, Abraham Flexner, A. N. Whitehead, and William 0. Stanley. Many of Flexner’s other works also consider this problem. See also articles relating to the professionalization in the Encyclopedia of Social Sciences. A good idea of the development of a profession to a status closely resembling medicine may be obtained by studying the last four or five years of the American Psychologist. In this, journal reports of committees on standards, ethics, training, etc., are particularly revealing.

    Finally, the most fundamental and most important characteristic of a profession is that the skills involved are founded upon a body of intellectual theory and research. Furthermore, this systematic theory is constantly being expanded by research and thinking within the profession. As Whitehead says, “. . . the practice of a profession cannot be disjoined from its theoretical understanding or vice versa…. The antitheses to a profession is an avocation based upon customary activities and modified by the trial and error of individual practice. Such an avocation is a Craft ….” (16:557) The difference between the bricklayer and the architect lies right here.

    Professional Status of Audio-Visual Education

    We can now examine the present status of audio-visual education when measured by these six tests of a profession. Are audio-visual personnel, in fact, professionals? By audio-visual personnel is meant, for the moment, those individuals who spend fifty per cent or more of their time working with audio-visual programs in schools and colleges as directors, supervisors, producers, consultants, etc., or those who engage in in-service ; and pre-service teacher training or research in this area.

    An intellectual -technique. First, the audio-visual worker does possess an intellectual technique. He has to think reflectively in such varied areas as the critical evaluation of materials, the visualization of abstract concepts, the improvement of instruction, and in many aspects of planning and administration. Audio-visual personnel, as a group, meet this criterion fairly well.

    Practical application of the technique. Second: audio-visual techniques and materials justify their existence only as they become operative in classroom communication. Hence the test of practical application is completely met. Here the personnel of the field is at its best. The practical problems of classroom design, equipment, and materials are the meat and drink of most audio-visual people. As will be indicated below. there is, perhaps, even an overemphasis on this point.

    Long period of training, The test of a high degree of professionalization of the audio-visual field, however, breaks down completely against the third criterion, a long period of rigorous training for the members of a profession. Most professions not only require this long period of training but are also in substantial agreement as to the nature of this training. This results in the professional associations specifying the nature of the training either through state regulation of some sort or through a system of accrediting training institutions,

    The teaching profession as a whole does maintain training standards. But specific training for audio-visual directors and other personnel, with few exceptions, is still in the thinking stage. Although there have been directors of programs since before World War I, McClusky’s bibliography lists only fifteen articles in the literature which discuss the requirements for audio-visual personnel (14). .An examination of these articles reveals that only four are pertinent (6, 7, 12, 15). The others are devoted to administrative relationships and duties of principals, building coordinators, students, and miscellaneous problems. There has been practically no thoughtful consideration of this problem by audio-visual people and no attempt to develop standards.

    The history of all professions reveals that the lengthy and rigorous training programs came after a long period of evolution. So it is not surprising to find that the audio-visual field has not made an organized effort as yet to develop such a program. The audio-visual field has developed rapidly and has surmounted many professional problems without showing all the required characteristics of a profession. Now, in 1953, the field is really, for the first time, in a position to take a good look at the problem of professional training. The State of Indiana has already taken action, and proposals have been published in other states as to the training necessary for an audio-visual director and pointing to some form of certification. The Committee on Professional Education of DAVI has this as one of its direct concerns.

    The nature and content of professional education for audio-visual directors and other workers presents many problems that must be solved before audio-visual education can claim the status of a profession. The system of apprenticeship training that has been in operation is no longer adequate. Trained audio-visual personnel will not stay in their present jobs forever, and there is no longer the reservoir of service- experienced people to draw upon. Obviously, a graduate program that can provide the competencies generated by service and industrial experience coupled with a better theoretical background is required immediately. The audio-visual field cannot be upgraded into a profession until this occurs. Other unsolved problems include the nature of certification standards, admission standards and practices, and placement.

    Association and communication between members. The fourth criterion of a profession – a closely-knit association with a high quality of communication between members – is another point at which the audio-visual field does not measure-up. Considering, first, professional association, the best that can be said at present is that a professional association is in the process of becoming and will someday emerge.

    For many years DAVI was a comparatively weak organization held together by a small group of stalwarts. DAVI went through several re-organizations and managed to survive a depression and a war, but only in the last two or three years has the organization shown anything like the potential it can develop. The present arrangement which ties in the organization with the NEA through its executive secretary, with working national committees dealing with important problems, and with an increasing and interested membership promises much for the future.

    The audio-visual field has also suffered from too many organizations. It is a moot question whether the organizations which represent special applications of the field such as The Association for Education by Radio-Television (AERT), the Educational Film Library Association (EFLA), and the Film Council of America (FCA) should remain outside of the main stream of the DAVI or become divisions within it in order to develop the best possible organization for the profession. The men and women who founded and carried on these organizations deserve nothing but commendation for their continual struggle and achievements, but the field as a profession would probably benefit more by merger than by continual separation. At least this possibility should be thoroughly explored.

    At the state and local levels, the structure of audio-visual organization has not yet even approached the professional. There are some fine state units, to be sure. The

    Audio-Visual Education Association of California, one of the oldest and strongest, is a professional organization in every sense of the word. AVID of Indiana has achieved national recognition, and AVDO of Ohio is rapidly growing in strength. And there are others. But much work remains to be done on the state and local levels.

    It is at the other half of the concept of association – the idea of a high quality of communication between members – that the audio-visual movement as a whole had failed until the decision was made to publish the journal in which this paper appears. With the exception of Edgar Dale ‘s Newsletter, all of the journals serving the field had difficulty presenting professional content. This was true of Educational Screen, Audio- visual World, See and Hear, Audio -Visual Guide, Business Screen, The Journal of the AERT, Film News, and all the rest. Most of the time these magazines were not able to print thorough and scholarly papers on the theoretical bases of audio-visual education; research studies for the most part were ignored and left to journals outside the field. When compared to the Psychological Review, The American Journal 0f Sociology or a hundred other professional periodicals, the audiovisual magazines have simply not measured up professionally. There were good and sufficient reasons for this, but the fact remains.

    This is not to say


sellors, and audio-visual specialists. The article provided does not explicitly define what a profession is, but it does suggest that the professionalization of a field is related to the specialization of its occupations.

Based on the information provided, it could be argued that teaching can be considered a profession, as it involves a specialized set of skills and knowledge, as well as a formalized system of education and training. However, the article specifically focuses on the professionalization of the audio-visual field, which suggests that the author sees this field as distinct from teaching as a whole.

In terms of the definition of a profession, there is no universally accepted definition. Some key elements that are often associated with professions include specialized education and training, a code of ethics, a formalized system of certification or licensure, and a commitment to ongoing professional development.

Ultimately, whether or not teaching is considered a profession may depend on the specific criteria used to define the term. However, it is clear that there are many aspects of teaching that are in line with commonly recognized features of a profession.

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