n Journal for Language Teaching = Ijenali Yekufundzisa Lulwimi = Tydskrif vir Taalonderrig - Language and composition awareness in the pedagogy of the humanities and the social sciences learning area in schools : a teacher workshop inquiry

Volume 35, Issue 2_3
  • ISSN : 0259-9570



This article reports on an inquiry into a teacher development workshop that focused on creating a disposition of language and writing composition awareness in the teaching of History as component of the Human and Social Sciences (HSS) in the Outcomes-Based Education (OBE) curriculum of Gauteng Department of Education schools. The workshop was planned as the action component of an action research inquiry (and the concomitant intervention) into teachers. conceptions of themselves as educators of essay writing in the HSS learning area. The inquiry focused on the teaching of writing skills in the .research essay., which is now a component of the curriculum in HSS. The findings show that the teachers believed that they had hardly any essay writing competence themselves. They also showed little awareness of the skills involved in writing a research essay in the appropriate expository and argumentative style and in research essay format. In their assessment of an essay text they focused on students. reproduction of somewhat disconnected facts as the main criterion for gauging competence and understanding. One of the 11 teachers in the sample focused on language, but only at the level of grammar and spelling, with no recognition of the use of argument and analysis as procedural understanding devices embodied in language. There was no indication of awareness of the format of a research essay, the argumentative and discursive components of such an essay, or the use of research evidence to problematise the topic of the essay . all of which are requirements for research essay writing. In addition, the teachers viewed themselves as transferring agents of knowledge and rejected the notion that they should be teachers of writing. We argue that the teachers. views of knowledge as transferable and of learning as management of information are evident in their views of teaching writing composition and that this has serious implications for the loss of learning opportunities in the research essay component of the curriculum.

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