The Core Competence of the Teacher – the core of Education

Article by Juby Joy  (Pontifical Salesian University, Rome)                                                                                                                            


The ‘core competence’ is a widely known management concept and terminology which was  coined by C.K. Prahalad and Gary Hamel in their article “The Core Competence of the Corporation,” published by Harvard Business Review in 1990. According to them, the term can be defined as “a harmonized combination of multiple resources and skills that distinguish a firm in the marketplace”. Introducing the management term to the field of education would be more applicable, since each teacher must be well distinguished with multiple resources and effective skills in order to form effective and all the more competent students.                     The term ‘competence’ in the educative scenario is well defined as “the ability to mobilize (activate) and to orchestrate (combine) the resources to deal with a class or type of situations and challenging tasks (educational or professional) in a valuable and productive way” (M.Pellerey). To be a teacher at any level demands a certain amount of knowledge, capacity and skill. Being loyal to the core competence of the teachers helps to make sure that all teachers and others who work in education field are prepared to make school a positive experience for students and their families.

Identifying core competencies

The capacity and ability of the teacher, determines the effectiveness and non-effectiveness of the teaching. A Competent teacher would also create a conducive atmosphere in the classroom, which lead the students for better learning. Teaching competency has innumerable dimensions such as knowledge of the content, lesson planning, student motivation, presentation and communication skills, evaluation and classroom management skills, which affect the competency of the students as well. Apart from these well discussed traditional competencies, I may discuss something anew.

The self-awareness: The self-awareness of a teacher, being conscious of the great social responsibility, according to me, comes first among the teaching competencies. To inculcate the desired spirit of a teacher all through the life situations, and to formulate a behavioural competence, is the hardest task. As pointed out by William Arthur Ward, “The mediocre teacher tells, the good teacher explains, the superior teacher demonstrates, the great teacher inspires.” The true inspiration comes out from the whole life-style of a teacher.

Know the student limits: to create a rapport inside the classroom comes next. Every educational system will have its fast learning students and those who need a special assistance. Knowing the limit of the student, and the capacity to effectively interact with them makes a teacher competent enough.

Create a positive learning environment: A competent teacher creates an enormous level of confidence in the students. Safe and secure learning environment inside the classroom make the student confident enough to perform and behave well both inside and outside the classroom. The teacher, with his/her charisma, must make the students feel comfortable when speaking up in the classroom.

Identify student needs: The ability to identify various needs of the students and to address them effectively determines the quality of a teacher. The concerned process requires a significant amount of time and energy of the teacher. The teacher must go beyond the instructional level in order to identify the special tastes and talents of each student and must appreciate and admit them. In the same way, by taking care of the emotional needs of the students, it is the duty of the teacher to help them to focus on learning.

Field of Expertise: The knowledge of the subject matter and the effective presentation of the same by way of satisfying various needs of the students, together contribute towards the success path of an efficient teacher. This also includes ample knowledge to choose and create various instructional materials that attract the students. The capacity of the teacher to facilitate the subject matter in a clear and concise way, determines the competence as well.

Effective communication: A teacher must be an effective communicator by means of his words and actions. It can also be divided into technical and contextual means of communication. A competent teacher communicates effectively with language conducive to age, gender, race, and ethnic, linguistic and socioeconomic backgrounds of the students, as well as individual peculiarities and needs. The teacher must be able to interact with students, families, and colleagues. “Good teaching is one-fourth preparation and three-fourths theatre” (Gail Goldwin).

Professionalism and commitment: A teacher always serves as a role model to students. The unprofessional dealing, methods and behaviour may cause to create a bad impression among the students and to lose their respect towards teachers as well. Demonstrate professionalism in all aspects of the teaching career is best component to maintain the teaching competence. Professionalism in appearance, interaction and overall behaviour matter a lot. “Teacher commitment is a key factor influencing the teaching-learning process. It is the psychological identification of the individual teacher with the school and the subject matter or goals, and the intention of that teacher to maintain organizational membership and become involved in the job well beyond personal interest. Teachers’ commitment is thought to decrease progressively over the course of their teaching career” (Fraser,Draper & Taylor, 1998).


“True teachers are those who use themselves as bridges over which they invite their students to cross; then, having facilitated their crossing, joyfully collapse, encouraging them to create their own.” (Nikos Kazantzakis). The core competence of a teacher hence becomes a passing legacy from which a student inherits the values of life. The core of educational process lies in the continues exchange of this legacy and in unending inheritance of the same.

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