South African Journal of Education - Volume 30, Issue 1, 2010
Volume 30, Issue 1, 2010
Revisiting Jürgen Habermas's notion of communicative action and its relevance for South African school governance : can it succeed?Author Nonceba MabovulaSource: South African Journal of Education 30, pp 1 –12 (2010)More Less
I apply as theoretical framework the Habermassian principles of 'communicative action' and 'consensus' through deliberation and reasoning. In particular, I focus on 'rational' and 'argumentative' communication through which school governance stakeholders could advance arguments and counter-arguments. I explore perceptions of educators concerning the role of learners, their experience and their democratic participation in school governance. I collected data using focus group discussions with educators in five selected schools in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa. Data were analysed using natural meaning units which represented specific thoughts, feelings or perceptions as expressed by the participants. Results showed that educators were not very eager to accept learners as participants in the structure of school governance. Finally, I suggest that, through the Habermassian notion of communicative action, school governing body stakeholders will be free to exchange ideas, and that they will not only voice opinions, but also listen, because through the act of engaging and listening (communicative action) participants can be persuaded and their thinking can be transformed.
Human rights values or cultural values? Pursuing values to maintain positive discipline in multicultural schoolsSource: South African Journal of Education 30, pp 13 –26 (2010)More Less
Discussions on discipline in education often accentuate corporal punishment or measures to infuse moral fibre. In addition, many authors argue that inculcating a particular value system can promote discipline in schools. This could however be profoundly problematic in the light of the Constitution. We argue that positive discipline in multicultural school environments needs to be based in part on human rights values that are neither solely universally interpreted nor particularistically interpreted. We report on the data generated at a research workshop held as the final dissemination process of a four-year international research project entitled "Understanding human rights through different belief systems : intercultural and interreligious dialogue". Dialogue was chosen as a form of data gathering since it is more spontaneous than conventional questioning techniques and can thus generate more naturally occurring data to strengthen the outcomes of the project. It appears that some teachers believe discipline can only be maintained through the elevation of cultural values (particularism). We argue that schools should start negotiating, at the most basic level, the values, including emancipatory, human rights values, and cultural values, which could underpin positive discipline in multicultural schools. Drawing solely on cultural values is not only unlikely to solve the problem of discipline, but could also undermine the efforts to transform our diverse, democratic society.
Evaluation of the effectiveness of the 360-credit National Professional Diploma in Education (NPDE) programmeSource: South African Journal of Education 30, pp 27 –39 (2010)More Less
We investigated the effectiveness of the 360-credit National Professional Diploma (NPDE) as a programme that is aimed at the upgrading of currently serving unqualified and under-qualified educators, with a view to improving the quality of teaching and learning in schools and Further Education and Training colleges. To this end, the National Professional Diploma in Education Effectiveness Scale (NPDEES) and Classroom Observation and Assessment Form (COAF) were used. The findings indicated that educators differed in the extent to which they regarded the 360-credit NPDE programme as effective. The findings also indicated that component 3 (competences relating to teaching and learning processes), component 1 (competences relating to fundamental learning) and component 4 (competences relating to the profession, the school and the community) were the best predictors of the effectiveness of the 360-credit NPDE programme. It was found that educators differed in the extent to which they performed during the classroom-based evaluation. Suggestions are made for measures to improve educators' performance in the classroom.
Source: South African Journal of Education 30, pp 41 –57 (2010)More Less
Since the passage of legislation banning corporal punishment in South African schools, disruptive behaviour in schools has become an issue of national concern. Against this background a research project was undertaken in which the types and causes of disruptive behaviour occurring most frequently in the Foundation Phase of schooling were identified, with a view to providing strategies for teachers to manage behaviour of this kind. A qualitative research approach was applied. Data collection was done by conducting interviews comprising semi-structured questions with Foundation Phase teachers. Strategies purposely devised to deal specifically with the identified types and causes of disruptive behaviour are explained.
Source: South African Journal of Education 30, pp 59 –74 (2010)More Less
We consider the professional development of in-service teachers and review traditional development efforts that have been used in the past. An alternative form of professional development using Japanese lesson study is proposed and discussed as a possibility. A case study involving the Mpumalanga Secondary Science Initiative, where lesson study was used, is described and its efficacy reviewed. The project was aimed at improving mathematics and science learning of secondary school learners using lesson study for teacher development. The discussion concludes with a reflection on the outcomes and efforts of the project.
Entrepreneurial orientation and practice : three case examples of historically disadvantaged primary schoolsSource: South African Journal of Education 30, pp 75 –89 (2010)More Less
Historically disadvantaged schools are mostly in a position where they cannot easily practise entrepreneurial customs like innovation, proactiveness and risk-taking. However, some of these schools perform well under similar circumstances and show strong entrepreneurial inclinations. In fact, in research conducted in 2006, Lebusa and Xaba found that there were very strong prospects of fostering entrepreneurial customs at historically disadvantaged schools. It was found that schools were already practising innovativeness, proactiveness and risk-taking, albeit unintentionally. We report on the practice of innovativeness, proactiveness and risk-taking at historically disadvantaged schools. Case examples of three successful entrepreneurial historically disadvantaged primary schools are presented. Results indicate novel and innovative ventures undertaken at these schools and clearly indicate that some historically disadvantaged schools are indeed entrepreneurially oriented.
Troubling some generalisations on teacher education in the English-speaking world : the case of the Republic of IrelandSource: South African Journal of Education 30, pp 91 –104 (2010)More Less
There is a great deal of talk about a crisis in teaching across the English-speaking world, about the quality of teachers leaving much to be desired, and about the quality of student outcomes dropping. This, in turn, has resulted in various aspects of teacher preparation coming under severe scrutiny. In general, disquiet has been voiced about the quality of those admitted to teacher preparation programmes, about the quality of the programmes themselves, and about the quality of those responsible for delivering them. Much of the literature in this regard emanates primarily from the US, and England and Wales, and to a lesser extent from Australia and New Zealand. While the criticisms voiced may well be valid for these contexts, one would still not be justified in uncritically generalising from them to the rest of the English-speaking world. We adopt such a 'troubling' perspective by focusing on the situation regarding secondary school teacher preparation in the Republic of Ireland. Along with being offered as a work of interest in its own right, a number of areas for consideration regarding the situation in South Africa are also outlined.
Author Edith PhaswanaSource: South African Journal of Education 30, pp 105 –122 (2010)More Less
Learner participation in South Africa was legislated in 1996 through the South African Schools Act, No. 84. Since then it has been a legal requirement to establish representative councils of learners (RCL) at secondary schools (with Grade 8 and higher) countrywide. I investigate the perspectives and experiences of participation with secondary schools learners elected to serve in representative councils of learners and school governing bodies. I adopted an interpretive qualitative methodology. In-depth interviews and focus groups were used. Three categories of experiences emerged : (1) learning experiences, (2) relational experiences, and (3) challenges faced by learner councillors. The data further suggest that there is an opportunity for learners to gain skills that could be useful for them. I offer a framework for learner participation that is grounded in social learning to promote meaningful participation.
Source: South African Journal of Education 30, pp 123 –138 (2010)More Less
Language and education are interrelated because all teaching is given through the medium of language. Language is considered to be both a precondition for thought and a bearer of thought and therefore influences the extent to which a child's intelligence is actualised. In the South African context linguistic diversity is a complex issue. It has increasingly become the task and responsibility of educators to develop strategies in an attempt to facilitate quality education for their learners. In this study, the researchers developed an 'aid' that would assist learners to relate mathematics terms and concepts in English with terms in their own languages. The study determined whether a visual multilingual learner companion brought change in learners' performance in mathematics. Also what the educators' views were about this. A combination of a quasi-experimental study and an interview schedule was conducted. The quasi-experimental study was conducted among learners while the interview schedule was with their educators. The sample comprised 2,348 learners in Grade 4, Grade 5 and Grade 6 from 20 schools as well as 20 educators from the treatment schools. The results indicated that the mathematics marks of the treatment group improved. Also, the educators were complimentary about the learner companion and indicated that they would utilise this going forward in their teaching. It is recommended that the multilingual visual explanatory mathematics learner companion be used and investigated on a larger scale to corroborate the efficacy reported here.
Source: South African Journal of Education 30, pp 139 –152 (2010)More Less
The findings of a study on the demographic profile and perceived INSET needs of secondary Mathematics teachers in Limpopo province are described. The survey instrument employed was the Science Teacher Inventory of Needs for Limpopo province (STIN-LP). Most teachers who responded to this survey teach at a rural or township school, are between 20 and 40 years old, and have between four and ten years experience in teaching Mathematics. Standard 10 is the highest academic qualification of half of the teachers, with 67% of teachers having an M+3 as their highest professional qualification. Teachers indicated interest in all the 38 INSET need items included in the STIN-LP with motivating learners to learn Mathematics, using audio-visual equipment and applying mathematics to daily life of learners among the most important need. The least support was indicated, among others, for needs related to the history of mathematics, improving content knowledge, how mathematics is used in society, and teaching large classes. Poor communication of INSET activities was reported to be the greatest barrier to INSET participation. Implications of the findings are discussed.
Source: South African Journal of Education 30, pp 153 –165 (2010)More Less
International and national mathematics studies have revealed the poor mathematics skills of South African learners. An essential tool that can be used to improve learners' mathematical skills is for educators to use effective feedback. Our purpose in this study was to elicit learners' understanding and expectations of teacher assessment feedback. The study was conducted with five Grade 9 mathematics learners. Data were generated from one group interview, seven journal entries by each learner, video-taped classroom observations and researcher field notes. The study revealed that the learners have insightful perceptions of the concept of educator feedback. While some learners viewed educator feedback as a tool to probe their understanding, others viewed it as a mechanism to get the educator's point of view. A significant finding of the study was that learners viewed educator assessment feedback as instrumental in building or breaking their self-confidence.