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n Historia - Life on the fringes : the role of the Unisa Short Course in School History Enrichment in empowering teachers

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Abstract

The Department of History at the University of South Africa (Unisa) has been using distance learning techniques in providing tertiary education to thousands of students for many decades. The majority of these students have been educators who teach History - and since 2008, also Social Science, in Grades 8 and 9 - at secondary schools throughout South Africa. In addition to broadening their knowledge base through its degree courses, a non-formal Certificate Short Course in School History Enrichment (later renamed Short Course in School History Enrichment) was launched in 1999. The reasons for this initiative were varied and are explored in some depth in this article, as are the different phases in the development of tutorial materials in response to changes to curriculum and education policy after 1994. Integrating the findings of a recent qualitative research project conducted in the History Department, the article uncovers some of the frustrations of secondary school History and Social Science teachers amid a fast-changing professional environment and their dire need for didactical and emotional support. On the other hand, it conveys the remarkable enthusiasm of many who, despite feeling marginalised, are committed to teaching the subject well, developing and inspiring their learners, and instilling a real love of History in the young people under their care. This positive attitude and the close interaction between candidates and tutors have in turn transcended the physical distance of an ODL environment and have inspired the course coordinator to sustain the course for more than a decade despite academic pressures, the scepticism of some colleagues and various structural constraints within the university.

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/content/hist/55/1/EJC38389
2010-05-01
2016-12-06
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