Une enquête auprès du personnel enseignant des commissions scolaires du Québec sur les rapports entre l'âge, le travail et le cheminement professionnel révèle que des effets de cohorte font varier sa situation et son cheminement professionnel ; ces changements reflètent les transformations profondes du travail et de l'emploi dans le milieu de l'enseignement au cours des dernières décennies. Par contre, le rapport individuel au travail ne varie pas selon l'âge ni selon le genre sexuel. La façon de le vivre différencie cependant très nettement quatre catégories d'importance à peu près égales parmi le personnel enseignant : les passionnés, les tiraillés, les contentés et tes désabusés. Ces positions existentielles face au travail sont fortement associées aux diverses composantes du rapport individuel au travail. Il apparaît que ce sont les rapports pédagogiques, la gestion de la classe, les facteurs organisationnels et relationnels, et non l'âge du personnel enseignant, qui sont en cause.
A study conducted among teaching staff of Quebec school boards on the relationships between age, working conditions, and career paths reveals that the cohort effect varies the teaching staffs situation and career path according to age; these changes reflect the profound transformations of work and employment conditions in teaching over the past few decades. The study notes the effects of such transformations on the age structure according to instructional level, job status, level of schooling, income, and gender.
On the other hand, despite the fact that two-thirds of teachers are woman, the subjective relationship to the work experience does not vary according to age or gender. Teachers' subjective relationship to the work experience is characterized, first and foremost, by marked ambivalence. Satisfaction is very high as regards certain facets of the work experience that are considered highly important by teaching staff. Some of these facets seem to be elements of teachers' professional identity, while others involve a more instrumental dimension. This helps to explain teachers' marked attachment to their profession. These very high levels of satisfaction nonetheless coexist with strong dissatisfaction with respect to other facets that are also deemed important, some of which are regulational in nature and some of which pertain more to social recognition of the teaching profession — dissatisfaction that is symptomatic of conflicts between subjective aspirations and institutional policies.
This enables us to understand why teachers' relationship to the work experience and their attachment to the profession is often expressed in terms of an opposition between a high degree of professional involvement and frustration due to the numerous constraints that affect the practice of teaching. A large majority of teachers are strongly attached to their profession and feel that their work in fulfilling, but at the same time they belive that they have an excessive work load, a stressful work life, and a lack of time. More than half also feel that they have to expend considerable energy motivating themselves in their work.
The way these contradictions are lived out, however, very clearly differentiates teaching staff into four categories that are roughly equivalent in size : the passionate ones, those who are "divided" (i.e., torn between their love for their work and their capactiy to sustain it), those who are contented, and those who are disillusioned. These existential positions vis-à-vis the work experience, unrelated to age, are strongly associated with various components of the subjective relation to the work experience. Thus the passionate teachers, more than the others, feel self-actualized by their work and are not under the impression that they have to devote considerable energy to motivate themselves, and fewer of them feel that their work life is stressful. Their sense of attachment to the profession is also very strong. Among those who are divided, we find the greatest number of teachers who feel stressed by their work and a fairly large number who feel that they have to expend considerable energy in motivating themselves, which negatively affects their attachment to the profession. They are also the ones most sensitive to the quantitative aspects of their duties (heavy work load, lack of time). Teachers who are contented share with the passionate ones a positive evaluation of the psychological components of their work, although to a lesser degree. This category of teachers is the one for whom the quantitative aspects are the least constraining. The contented teachers also have a strong sense of attachment to the profession. Finally, the disillusioned teachers feel that their work is self-realizing; they find their work life stressful, and have to devote much energy to self-motivation. Like those who are « divided », the disillusioned teachers are more apt to consider their work load heavy. Lack of time affects them less. On the other hand, their attachment to the profession is weak.
Teachers' relationship to the work experience is also associated with the concrete practice of teaching. In fact, it appears that the act of teaching, classroom management, organizational factors and relational factors — not the age of the teaching staff — are concerned here.