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Teacher stress : a study of high school teachers in the Northern Cape.

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The purpose of this research was to establish what the major stressors of black High school teachers in the Kimberley Area, Northern Cape, were. At the same time the research had to establish whether gender and number of years teaching made any difference to the stress experienced. A list of 16 stressors had to be rank ordered, too. Finally, the researcher wanted to know why, if teaching is so stressful, were the teachers still doing it. This information would then be used to advise education administrators as to what to attend to in order to reduce the stressful effect of these stressors, thereby enabling the teacher to do a better job. The literature confirms the need for stress, saying that a life without stress is death. We need an amount of stress that will motivate us to achieve. When this amount becomes too much, and the stressed person feels that he/she is being stressed beyond his/her ability to cope, then distress takes over. If the person cannot cope then the person is at risk. This would be manifested physiologically, psychologically or emotionally. It is critical that coping skills are given to teachers to enable them to handle their stress well. It is very important to remember that any stressor is neutral - it depends on how the person perceives the stress. This gives rise to the fact that the same stressor will affect different people differently at different times of their life. However, stress is manageable! A survey was conducted wherein questionnaires were sent to High Schools in the Kimberley Area, some were mailed and others were hand delivered, depending on the school's geographic proximity to the researcher. The returns were analysed question by question, separating the responses of the male from the female teachers as well as the responses from each experience group. An average per question combining all experience groups but separating the male and female groups, was computed. Rank ordering of the stressors was made taking the average responses per group of questions per stressor. Finally, the main reasons for staying in teaching were also rank ordered. The key findings, guided by the research questions, were the following: (a) the top ranking stressors were not significantly different between the genders nor between the groups of experience in teaching; (b) teachers are still teaching because they "love to teach". Some suspected stressors investigated were found not to be stressors at all. The areas that will need to be addressed by the authorities so as to reduce the harmful stress effects on the teachers are: teacher unions, students' involvement in politics, time management, class composition, parent/teacher relations and promotions. When these are addressed, the teachers will be less stressed and thus able to do a good job.


Thesis (M.Ed.)-University of Durban-Westville, 1996.


Job stress., Stress management., Theses--Education.