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Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe

On-line version ISSN 2224-7912
Print version ISSN 0041-4751


HOPPERS, Catherine Odora  and  VAN DER WESTHUIZEN, Gert. Emancipatory learning and educational research. Tydskr. geesteswet. [online]. 2018, vol.58, n.3, pp.519-529. ISSN 2224-7912.

Educational research plays a critical role in bringing about social change in South Africa. The knowledge contributions made by researchers not only shape what is accepted as the science of teaching, but also forms the basis of the education systems, policies and practices. The recent calls for decolonisation can be accepted as symptomatic of the crisis of relevance and applicability of among others, knowledge in curricula and school education. This is not a technical crisis of low pass rates and the improvement of academic performance by educational authorities, but a crisis of collapse and reproduction of social inequalities still prevalent in society, reminding educators and researchers that schools are sites of struggle, as they have been considered in the past by community activists such as Neville Alexander. In this context, the imperative is to consider the role of educational research in educational change. We approach this challenge in terms of the problematic and possibilities of emancipatory learning, as espoused by among others, Neville Alexander. He is the South African who has, as independent socially-critical thinker, advanced interpretations of education transformation still relevant today. He recognized the complexities of social change in South Africa and acknowledged the imperative of emancipatory learning in everything education, including the use of theories in educational research at universities. The rethinking we propose here is about relevance, complexities, and inconsistencies of educational research as bases for policies and practices. We question the processes and dominance of research, policies, and underlying theories and argue for the emancipatory and generative function of theory. The purpose is to encourage conversations about dominant paradigms and alternatives to educational actions.

Keywords : Emancipatory learning; educational research; dominant paradigms; generative theories; social-critical thinking; educational crisis; Neville Alexander.

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