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Educational Research for Social Change

On-line version ISSN 2221-4070


LAMB, Shena  and  SNODGRASS, Lyn. A nonviolent pedagogical approach for Life Orientation teacher development: the Alternatives to Violence Project. Educ. res. soc. change [online]. 2017, vol.6, n.2, pp.1-15. ISSN 2221-4070.

Violence in South African schools seems to be increasing and the consequences affect not only the physical, emotional, and academic lives of learners but also their resistance to delinquent and criminal behaviour. Because the foundations for youth violence are laid in early adolescence, violence prevention in schools is a critical need. Life orientation (LO) as a compulsory school subject could play a key role in helping South African learners deal with the different manifestations of violence, especially understanding the nature of the institutionalised violence of colonialism and apartheid. LO can also nurture learners' personal development and life skills to increase their sense of agency, a key factor in both violence prevention and learners' decolonisation processes. However, various South African studies attest to the current low status of LO in the school curriculum as well as the difficulties of teaching LO. Many of these studies also mention the inadequacy of LO teachers' preparation for meaningful LO teaching. Given that equipping current-day South African learners with the self-empowerment skills necessary for preventing everyday conflicts from escalating into violence also entails this complex decolonisation process to liberate them of past or still present oppressions, this paper contends that LO teachers need to have first participated in such self-development processes themselves. For these reasons, this article proposes a specific development strategy to support LO teachers, namely, that they participate in workshops of the Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP),1 which applies a nonviolent pedagogical approach in its focus on self-empowerment and creative conflict management. The article discusses the benefits of such an approach and conceptually explores how AVP has the potential to provide LO teachers with practical strategies for creative, affirming responses to conflict and violence.

Keywords : decolonisation; experiential learning; life orientation; teacher training; nonviolent pedagogy; life skills.

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