South African Journal of Education
On-line version ISSN 2076-3433
Print version ISSN 0256-0100
FEVRE, Celeste Wolfensberger-Le; FRITZ, Elzette and WESTHUIZEN, Gert van der. The community of learning is in the Baobab tree: how the branches stay together in the context of professional preparation. S. Afr. j. educ. [online]. 2011, vol.31, n.4, pp.561-573. ISSN 2076-3433.
This article explores how participation in a community of learning supported transformation on a personal and professional level in a Master's programme at a South African university. It draws on the concept of transformational learning in the professional preparation of educational psychologists, and how such learning plays out in the development of critical perspectives and shifts in personal paradigms. We report on a two-year ethnographic study that involved 13 of a total of 15 students enrolled for an Educational Psychology Master's course. One of us (CW) acted as participant observer in the study and recorded the experiences of the participants through reflective letters that included symbolic metaphors, semi-structured group focus interviews, as well as a verification questionnaire. In our analysis and interpretation we used the metaphor of the Baobab tree, 'the tree turned upside down', because it is known for its resilience, holding capacity and continuous growth. We found the image to powerfully represent the dynamics of professional preparation and transformation in higher education.
Keywords : Educational Psychology; learning community; personal development; professional preparation; transformative learning.