Scielo RSS <![CDATA[Journal of Education (University of KwaZulu-Natal)]]> vol. num. 69 lang. en <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[<b>Reimagining education</b><b>: </b><b>poetics, practices and pedagogies</b>]]> <![CDATA[<b>Interdisciplinarity, neoliberalism and academic identities: Reflections on recent developments at the University of Botswana</b>]]> This paper explicates the growing interest in interdisciplinarity as a form of knowledge organisation at the University of Botswana (UB). It accomplishes this by locating this development in a global context of a growing instrumentalisation of knowledge, partially occasioned by the advent of the knowledge society. Generally, the paper argues that interdisciplinarity is not some neutral, apolitical technical re-arrangement of knowledge, as often presented. Rather, it is a political technology implicated in attempts to break academics' monopoly on the processes and products of higher education (HE). It attributes interdisciplinarity's rise to the emergence in the 1970s of neoliberalism as a social settlement that privileges market rationality. There is, therefore, affinity between interdisciplinarity and neoliberalism, and it is a relationship in which the former is being deployed by the latter in HE to produce 'neoliberal academic subjects'. The case of UB is presented as a specific case of the general argument that interdisciplinarity is designed to effect new forms of academic subjectivities attuned to market rationality. <![CDATA[<b>Struggles for teacher education in the age of the anthropocene</b>]]> Major shifts in the world 'order' - especially the urgency of climate change and biosphere destruction - pose challenges for education which require significant changes of practice in schools and universities, and thus to teacher education. This paper starts from a brief summary of issues at stake in the 'Anthropocene Age', arguing that the converging environmental crises have to be linked to the crises of capitalism. Pragmatist philosophy and the practice turn in the human sciences provide directions for rethinking the tasks which teacher education can contribute to an activist-oriented development of education in these difficult times for humans and the planet. <![CDATA[<b>Pursuing a problematic-based curriculum approach for the sake of social justice</b>]]> This article envisions, and argues for, what I call a problematic-based curriculum approach (PBCA) in which students work with/on knowledge in relation to local lifeworld problems that matter. In the process, students and teachers would extend curriculum work beyond school walls, engaging with diverse knowledgeable actors - 'lay' and 'expert' - in relation to mattering problems. In outlining PBCA, I draw significantly on Vygotskyan thought, including the Funds of Knowledge approach to curriculum design, and on Isabelle Stengers' pragmatist arguments for a proactive politics of knowledge in which 'expertise' proliferates. The article also contrasts PBCA with the Social Realist approach to curriculum (SR) that underpins South Africa's Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statements (CAPS). In this contrast, I argue that SR/CAPS is re-formative, whereas CPBA would be trans-formative in Nancy Fraser's sense of "chang[ing] the deep grammar" that frames curriculum, towards robust and vitally needed social-educational justice. <![CDATA[<b>Using memory work as a decolonising pedagogy in a study on District Six's forced removal history: a case for epistemic justice</b>]]> Post-apartheid South Africa created pedagogical spaces to redress apartheid injustices and suppressed ontologies as a necessary path towards epistemic justice. The post-apartheid history curriculum states that the 'study of history enables people to understand and evaluate how past human action has an impact on the present and how it influences the future'. 'Forced removals' is a common but under-utilised historical resource employable in the history classroom to connect the present with the past. The spatial, temporal, and psychological architecture of forced removals conceal intangible memory which has potential to become tangible, 'post-abyssal historical knowledge'. This article argues that epistemic marginalisation of historically oppressed communities can be ameliorated by employing 'emancipatory memory work'. Dominant epistemologies have privileged empiricism and rationalism over memory and introspection. To advance a fuller historiography of District Six, this article applies a critical memory work approach based on Schatzki's notion of memory as practice, Wenger's notion of 'community of practice' and Santo's 'post-abyssal knowledge'. Two separate focus group discussions were conducted with first-generation survivors of forced removals and third-generation grade 11 learners with ancestral origins in District Six. The study is informed by the question: what are the outcomes of a memory work approach when employed as pedagogy to decolonise the history curriculum? Based on a synthesis of memory themes, findings are co-constructed as 'post-abyssal historical knowledge'. In conclusion, suggestions are made to integrate memory work and forced removals as pedagogy towards decolonising the history curriculum. <![CDATA[<b>Reconfiguring educational relationality in education: the educator as pregnant stingray</b>]]> In my paper, I discuss student, teacher-centred and 'post-postmodern' educational relationality and use Karen Barad's posthuman methodology of diffraction to produce an intra-active relationality by reading three familiar figurations through one another: the midwife, the stingray, and the pregnant body. The new educational theory and practice that is produced is the 'superposition' of the pregnant stingray - a reconfiguration of the educator that disrupts power producing binaries, such as teacher/learner, adult/child, individual/society. The reconfiguration of the pregnant stingray makes us think differently about difference, the knowing subject (as in/determinate and unbounded), and creates a more egalitarian intra-relationality 'between' learner and educator through the shift in subjectivity. <![CDATA[<b>Student-teachers' understanding of the role of theory in their practice</b>]]> In the current educational context there are calls worldwide for a shift from the perspective which treats theory separately from practice, to a more organically evolving, more grounded conception of theory which integrates campus-based courses with school teaching and learning. This study adopts a guided reflection conceptual framework in making sense of student teachers' understanding of the role of theory in their practice. A qualitative design is employed. The aim was to establish how student teachers think about theory in their teaching. Following a survey aimed at identifying a relevant sample for a guided reflection, a focus group interview was conducted with a sample of twelve 4th-year student teachers. Data analysis involved transcribing, coding and classification of the codes into themes. Findings indicate that contrary to popular notions of student-teachers not being sure of what is meant by 'theory' in the practice of teaching, they have very particular and nuanced understandings of the position and role of theory. <![CDATA[<b>First year students' experience of access and engagement at a University of Technology</b>]]> Universities in South Africa have opened access to a diverse population of students, which has resulted in an increased participation of first-generation, low-income and mature students. Concomitant to the widening access, issues relating to retention and success continue to remain a challenge. Student engagement persists as a key concern at universities both locally and globally. This study draws on the theoretical observations of Tinto (1975, 1993), and Leach and Zepke (2011) to explore First Year (FY) students' pre-university non-academic factors and its influence on student engagement experiences with institutional support initiatives. Data was collected from a quantitative questionnaire completed by 195 participants and from a follow up of qualitative data gathered from focus group discussions and semi-structured interviews. The findings from this study reveal that students' pre-university non-academic factors play a significant role in the way students engage with institutional support initiatives. One such factor include students' motivation and resilience to succeed and the key role it plays in enhancing their engagement with peers and lecturers at the university. <![CDATA[<b>Becoming a teacher in Australia: reflections on 'the resilience factor' in teacher professional development and teacher retention in the 1940s and at the beginning of the twenty-first century</b>]]> Early career teacher retention and attrition rates have implications for the provision of quality education. Recent investigations of why some teachers survive and thrive while others leave the profession, disillusioned and/or burnt out, have identified 'resilience' as a key factor in teachers' personal and professional growth and commitment to a long-term career in education. This paper uses data from a demonstration lessons notebook compiled by a student teacher in 1942, accompanied by lesson commentary from her supervising teachers, a teachers' college handbook c.1943 and interviews with the compiler of the notebook to tell the story of an entrant into the teaching profession in the Australian state of Victoria in the 1940s. Her story is compared with findings from studies which focus on early career teachers in several Australian states in the first decade of the twenty-first century. The comparisons indicate that while resilience is a key factor in the personal and professional growth of teachers entering the profession sixty years apart, perhaps unsurprisingly, there are more differences than similarities in the nature of the challenges experienced by a novice teacher in the 1940s and several cohorts of early career teachers at the beginning of the twenty-first century. The paper concludes with some suggestions for nurturing teacher resilience and long-term commitment to the profession which could be considered by teacher educators and school leaders globally, with adaptations for addressing the specific challenges of the local. <![CDATA[<b>"Squeezed oranges?" Xhosa secondary school female teachers in township schools remember their learning about sexuality to reimagine their teaching sexuality education</b>]]> Several concurrent and complex issues seem to influence the teaching of sexuality education in South African schools. Studies have shown that teachers believe they can teach the subject as they have the content knowledge of sexuality education, but experience discomfort when they actually begin the task. We were therefore interested in understanding their perspectives on their own learning about sexuality within their Xhosa culture. Working with 9 purposively selected female Xhosa teachers from 4 secondary schools in townships in Port Elizabeth, we used participatory visual methodology, located within a critical paradigm, generating data with them through drawing. The data was analysed using thematic analysis. The findings show that the women teachers largely learnt about sexuality through piecing together the 'puzzle' of limited information from various quarters; through strict rules and fear; through own mistakes and through shame. This remembering facilitated ideas to rethink and reimagine sexuality education, drawing the value-laden Xhosa cultural teachings about sexuality into contemporary sexuality education. The participatory visual research process enabled a deep and open engagement, and in more than one way the claiming back of power, demonstrating a way to engage today's Xhosa adolescents on matters of sexuality. <![CDATA[<b>Followership and sustainability of school leadership for Science and Mathematics: A distributive perspective</b>]]> In leadership-followership relationships, roles are exchangeable, portraying followers as co-constructors of school leadership processes. Leadership literature largely focuses on the effectiveness of leaders and neglects the role of followership. The purpose of this study was to explore the role of followership in the construction of leadership processes for secondary school Science and Mathematics. We used a narrative inquiry in the form of a single school case study purposefully selected for being a top performing school in Physical Sciences and Mathematics. Narratives were elicited from seven participants who included positional leaders and teachers. Follower role identities and the leader-follower trade (LFT) were used as conceptual frameworks. An active follower role identity enabled teachers to co-construct and sustain leadership processes for Science and Mathematics. Significant teaching experience, subject expertise and proven records of good results in learner attainments activated the identity. The teachers co-constructed and sustained leadership processes for Science and Mathematics through participative leadership, continuous teacher learning and classroom practice. <![CDATA[<b>Principals' perspectives and experiences of their instructional leadership functions to enhance learner achievement in public schools</b>]]> School principals are faced with new demands, more complex decisions and additional responsibilities than ever before. Their day is usually filled with diverse administrative and management functions such as procuring resources, managing learner discipline, resolving conflicts with parents and dealing with unexpected teacher and learner crises. However, it is imperative for school principals to accentuate their role as instructional leaders by emphasising best teaching practices and keeping their schools focused on curriculum, teaching, and assessment to meet learner needs and enhance learner achievement. Using open-ended questionnaires and personal interviews with eight school principals, this study investigated how the principals perceived and experienced their functions as instructional leaders to improve learner performance. Findings revealed that many school principals repudiated claims that their primary function was to manage teaching and learning. However, those school principals that place high priority on curricular matters undoubtedly influence teacher and learner performance positively. <![CDATA[<b>Revisiting the role of the 'expert other' in learners' acquisition of workplace competence</b>]]> Skills development policies in South Africa and further afield consider learning in and from the workplace as critical to the training of artisans at intermediate level, bringing together theoretical learning undertaken in formal institutions and practical, on-the-job training for the purpose of achieving occupational competence, demonstrated ultimately in the prescribed trade test. Ellstrom (2001) asserts that "in spite of a widespread belief in the importance of integrating learning and work, little is known about the conditions that promote such integration" (p.421). While apprenticeship training has a long history in South Africa, and historical anecdotal accounts exist of the workplace experiences of trainee artisans, there are only a few recent local empirical studies that have advanced our understanding of this domain. This research thus sought to investigate learning in the workplace from the perspective of the candidates: the methodologies, practices, and affordances for learning which they perceived to be available to them, and employed a qualitative approach for exploring how candidates in engineering trades experienced the 'real world environment' of learning and engagement in the workplace. The juxtaposition of complementary theories that lent themselves to explaining workplace learning phenomena, in particular the works of Engeström (1987); Vygotsky (1978); and Lave and Wenger (1991), formed a richly informative system for the data which showed that candidates experienced diverse learning modalities and affordances in their workplace settings. However, the central role of the expert artisan as a quintessential didactic practitioner in moving candidates towards competence was a significant finding, pointing ultimately to the need for collective effort in harnessing the teaching potential of this 'expert other'. <![CDATA[<b>The culture of employee learning in South Africa: towards a conceptual framework</b>]]> The shortage of skills amongst employees in both the private and public sectors in South Africa continues to be a topical issue as exemplified by the continued existence of a list of scarce skills which is published by the Department of Higher Education (DHET). However, the notion that there is a shortage of skills in the country has begun to be challenged with some scholars arguing that the real problem is a jobs shortage attributable to structural inequalities which are a legacy of apartheid and failure by the government post-1994 to address these inequalities. This, we argue, is the reason why unemployment, unemployability and wide workplace inequalities, especially as they affect people from previously disadvantaged groups (mainly women and black employees), persist. We further contend that what is missing from the debates around skills shortage in South Africa and the wider phenomenon to which these debates belong, that is, employee learning, is a holistic conceptualisation of the culture associated with it on the part of the government, employers, workers' unions and even academia. Conceptualisation of this culture needs to go beyond the government and employer initiatives to the actual process by which employee learning takes place. In other words, it also needs to take into account the employees' biographies, identities and subjectivities as well as the social interactions which they engage in as they learn in the workplace. We therefore propose a two-tier framework which integrates implications from two theories, that is Human Capital Theory ((HCT) and Critical Realism (CR). Implied in HCT is the suggestion that the culture of employee learning is a function of the employer-initiated learning programmes, such as short courses offered by private employee learning service providers, Adult Basic Education and Training (ABET) and block-release programmes run by some institutions of higher learning. The basic aim of these forms of learning would be to increase profitability through improved productivity which itself is a result of employees having been equipped with the requisite skills. Using CR, and Bourdieu's (1986) idea of habitus, we, however, argue that the final architecture of the culture of employee learning is not linear but a complex and multi-layered product of such factors as the employees' family and educational backgrounds as well as individual and collective agency in addition to the government and employers' initiatives such as the afore-mentioned short courses. We also draw on Bernstein's (1996) notion of learning domains to suggest that attention be paid to employees' lived experiences which also mediate their responses to the government and employee learning initiatives. This would help with aligning government and organisational employee learning initiatives and strategies to the employees' individual and collective workplace learning aspirations.