Teachers are critical to achieving sustainable economic prosperity through their role in disseminating knowledge and moulding future generations of critical and creative thinkers. Yet in Australia, teaching as a career path is waning in both its attractiveness and status; early career teacher numbers are in critical decline; and the teaching profession is regularly portrayed in the media as a profession in crisis. Arresting if not reversing this trend is a complex problem. Without a solution, the quality of education available in Australia will be significantly impacted and our economic future imperilled.
Seeking to explore how open innovation could improve the status of the teaching profession, the aim of the study was threefold:
- to identify social innovations that could re-brand teaching with key stakeholders, in particular potential students who may choose it as a career (particularly important for prospective teachers of STEM); those most likely to influence their decisions; and the wider community.
- to disseminate for diffusion or commercialisation social innovations that may emerge from the process; and
- develop a multi-year ARC (Linkage) project building from this pilot and collaborating with both the Australian Council of Deans of Education and the Ruffin Falkiner Foundation as the potential industry partners.
- Teaching be reframed using the language of social entrepreneurship as a means of conveying to prospective teachers the teacher’s role in solving social problems and driving innovation for the greater good of society.
- A suite of promotional and professional development materials be developed for careers counsellors and relevant stakeholders that use the language and intentions of social entrepreneurship to orient prospect pre-service teachers to teaching as a socially valuable profession.