n South African Journal of Education - Vraagstelling vir bemagtiging : die tradisionele klaskamer as vertrekpunt

Volume 23, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 0256-0100
  • E-ISSN: 2076-3433



This article focuses on the question as the most salient element in class room discourse. A theoretical discussion of the question from a linguistic as well as a didactic perspective is followed by a description of the use of questions in some Grade 4 classrooms in Mangaung on the eve of the implementation of Curriculum 2005. Transcriptions of video-recordings of six history lessons (three of which were presented through the medium of Southern Sotho and three through the medium of English) were analysed to determine how teachers use specific types of questions with the intention of achieving certain objectives or outcomes in the social environment of the classroom. Among the findings discussed is how the role of the teacher as sole source of knowledge is reflected in the questioning patterns. The vast majority of questions are not real questions, but examination questions posed by the teacher to ascertain whether learning is taking place. The learners do not ask questions. Although there is evidence of mean ing negotiation, only a few learners take part in this process. The others are passive listeners whose responses are limited to chorus answers. Learners can only be empowered if they ask real questions that will lead to the solving of problems. In the new educational dispensation, teachers are faced with the challenge of asking questions that will lead to an inquisitive attitude in the case of learners. The research on questioning in the classroom is ongoing. A later work will report on questioning in changing classrooms where a learning-centred, task-based approach is introduced.

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