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Journal of Education (University of KwaZulu-Natal)

On-line version ISSN 2520-9868
Print version ISSN 0259-479X


NAIDOO, Devika. Pacing of knowledge: Pedagogic code, pedagogic discourse, and teachers' experiences. Journal of Education [online]. 2019, n.77, pp.6-23. ISSN 2520-9868.

There is sufficient evidence to suggest that post-apartheid curriculum reform has failed to produce the desired equity in performance for South African learners. Research on classroom practice preceding the current Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS; see Department of Basic Education, 2011), showed very slow pacing of knowledge as a cause of poor performance. Among other complex changes the CAPS regulates the pacing of knowledge. Adherence to prescribed CAPS pacing has been enforced in schools via monitoring tools by hierarchical management structures. In this study, I sought to investigate the impact of the new pacing regime on teaching and learning. The study is framed by Bernstein's theory (2004) that pacing carries invisible social class assumptions, and cognitivist theory (Spillane, Reiser, & Reimer, 2002) that teachers' individual cognition is influenced by situated cognition and policy signals. I ask two questions: "How does the new pacing regime impact the pedagogic code and pedagogic discourse in lessons?" and "What are teachers' views on how the new pacing regime impacts teaching and learning?" Based in a qualitative research design, in-depth interviews with teachers and classroom observations provided the main data sources. Data analysis shows that the strong pacing of knowledge has unintended consequences: the pedagogic code is lexicalized and hence impoverished and pedagogic discourse contains far too little elaboration for slower learners to facilitate acquisition. The curriculum policy on pacing and hierarchical monitoring of enactment of pacing distracts teachers from the pedagogic goal of supporting learning. Furthermore, teachers are focusing solely on keeping up with the prescribed pacing although they doubt that average and slower learners are learning at that pace. These learners are being left behind and excluded from acquiring the elaborated pedagogic code, its abstract orientation to meaning, and the specialization of their identity. It is highly possible that the current curriculum reform will fail to produce the desired social justice and equity in performance.

Keywords : pedagogic code; pedagogic discourse; pacing; sense-making.

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