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Yesterday and Today

On-line version ISSN 2309-9003
Print version ISSN 2223-0386

Y&T  n.15 Vanderbijlpark Jul. 2016


Dee promoted the SASHT at the said CAPS training sessions and shares the following personal observations of these training interventions:

  • History is frequently used as a personal "political soap box". The "Nationalism" topic in Grade 11, for example, appears to be giving some teachers great energy to air their views, thereby emphasising differences rather than commonalities and widening the gap between racial groups which is cause for concern.
  • The CAPS approach in History, namely working one's way through a text book from cover to cover without real debate and reflection, needs to be addressed. Most text books covering the Middle East conflict, for example, are slanted towards the plight of the Palestinians. She feels that learners need to be exposed to alternative thinking.
  • CAPS exam requirements remain a concern and the marking load in big history groups is rather daunting.
  • There seems to be a tendency towards over assessing. She asks: "How much exam evidence does one need to separate the A and G learners?"
  • In Dee's district (District 9) there is great concern about the level of sophistication of questions. She asks: "Is a question such as 'Critically evaluate the contribution that Nelson Mandela has made to a democratic South Africa' [from a CAPS document handed out during the training] really appropriate for Grade 4?"
  • Teachers seem to be implementing suggestions blindly without considering what their learners can cope with. In the Grade 7 - 9 meeting it was suggested that Grade 7's should be writing essays of seven paragraphs in length, yet this is not stipulated in national documents. Moreover, learners arriving in Grade 8 at the school where Dee teaches can hardly write a sentence, let alone a properly constructed essay. Most teachers at the particular workshop did not question the instruction and probably returned to their schools to demand seven- paragraph essays (two to three pages) from their Grade 7 learners. She finds this uncritical approach very worrying and asks: "How can we teach learners to question laws and stand up for basic human rights when we follow like sheep?"



The numerous activities and tasks relating to the hosting of the 27th annual conference of the SASHT (27 - 28 September 2013) at Maritzburg College were the key focus of SASHT-related activities in the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Midlands for the year.

Conference organisers Mathew Marwick and Simon Haw had four key aims:

  • to attract more attendees than previous SASHT conferences.
  • to keep attendance costs low.
  • to provide greater opportunities for social interaction among delegates.
  • to elicit enough papers and workshops for two streams of presentations per day.

Planning for the conference began in earnest in early 2013, with the building up of a substantial database of e-mail addresses from various sources and the composition of the marketing material for the conference. Simon Haw was tasked with organising all the presentations and workshops. He did an excellent job in arranging 37 presentations and two guest speakers, with Prof Jonathan Jansen of the University of the Free State providing the conference finale on the Saturday afternoon.

In the end all four of the conference objectives were achieved.

  • More than 120 delegates attended the conference.
  • The two-day attendance fee of R675 was substantially lower than in previous years, and the over-night package of R1 350 provided good value for money.
  • The welcome braai for overnight guests on the Thursday night was attended by about 55 people, as was the cocktail party on the Friday night.
  • Such was the supply of papers and workshops that two streams of presentations could be provided, made up in the main of short 20-minute slots.

Looking ahead, the SASHT regional representative for KZN Midlands, Mathew Marwick, anticipates that the successful SASHT Quiz of 2012 will be repeated in 2014.



Jake Manenzhe reports from Limpopo that the Provincial Executive Committee of the Society for History Teaching in Limpopo spent four months organising a one-day provincial History conference on "Curriculum change and the importance of Social Sciences". Despite the Limpopo Department of Education being under administration and therefore unable to provide any financial assistance, the conference proved to be successful and attracted the attendance of around 150 delegates including both History teachers and education officials.

As the conference took place on Women's Day (9 August), two female educators, Ms J Monakhisi and Ms G Senwamadi were appointed as programme directors. The vote of thanks was also rendered by a lady, Ms TD Mashishi. Moreover, in what seems to have been a real team effort, organising committee members and curriculum advisors worked together on the day of the conference to ensure a smooth registration process.

Jake's paper, titled "Curriculum transition into CAPS", highlighted the importance of change as an aspect of growth. He took the attendees along the path that Curriculum 2005, the National Curriculum Statement (NCS) and the Revised NCS travelled until the introduction of CAPS. The emphasis was on the NCS and CAPS not as new, unrelated curricula, but on the NCS as a product of reviewing in order to strengthen and streamline Curriculum 2005, and CAPS as a strategy to re-package the NCS so that content and assessment are well delineated according to themes.

On the day of the conference, eight teachers who had achieved excellent Grade 12 results in the 2012 final examination were awarded with certificates as tokens of appreciation. Vivlia Book Publishing also kindly donated four boxes with Grade 12 books which will be distributed to deserving schools upon the discretion of the Conference Organising Committee.


Mpumalanga and Northern Cape

The SASHT still needs to appoint regional representatives for these provinces.


North West Province

Pieter Warnich reports that the Department of Basic Education requested the Unit of Open Distance Learning at North-West University to present History workshops for Grades 4, 5 and 6 teachers in the townships and rural schools of the Klerksdorp, Rustenburg and Vryburg districts. These workshops adopted a multimedia approach and focused on the CAPS themes for Grades 4 to 6. The teachers who attended the workshops were encouraged to integrate multimedia into their lessons and received video clips and assessment material for use in the classroom. They were also provided with resource materials such as photographs and maps that covered all the Grades 4, 5 and 6 CAPS topics. Apart from the participants who were most appreciative, the Department of Basic Education officials were very happy with the outcome of the workshops, all of which prove that the workshops were a great success.


Western Cape

Barry Firth reports from the Western Cape that two successful History dialogues were held between high schools in the area where he teaches. These dialogues took the same form as the panel discussion held at the SASHT conference of 2012 and are set to inspire similar dialogues in 2014.

Barry finds it quite challenging to spread the SASHT brand in the Western Cape. Teachers apparently view participation in SASHT activities as additional labour and effort on top of the demands placed on them by CAPS. It would appear that unless individuals have an academic interest to pursue History, they find it difficult to justify the extra time, effort and financial outlay in becoming involved in the SASHT. On two occasions Barry invited the Curriculum Advisor (History) for the Western Cape Education Department (South) in an attempt to bridge the divide between officialdom and History teachers. He argues that the SASHT needs to involve more officials and policy makers from the various provincial departments of education and invite them to actively participate in future SASHT conferences which are the showcase of the Society - in other words, focus more on a targeted membership that would really strengthen the SASHT, or as he puts it: 'We want the lions, not the monkeys'.

Barry also had the opportunity to address the PGCE students at the University of Cape Town where he encouraged prospective History teachers to join the SASHT. He regards universities and teacher training institutions as the ideal growth nodes for future membership, seeing that schools are not naturally inclined to seek professional association with organisations such as the Van Riebeeck Society, the SASHT or Shikaya.

According to Barry, History teaching faces severe challenges in the Western Cape, the most important of which are the demands of CAPS. Although CAPS succeeds in sequencing and demarcating the knowledge areas more clearly, it remains uncertain whether learners with weak reading backgrounds will cope with the demands.

Another challenge is the lack of younger teachers joining the profession which casts doubt on the potential for future growth for the SASHT. Barry argues that Education schools at Universities must groom and channel students to join institutions such as SASHT. He also thinks that individual efforts are negligible and pleads for a biennial conference between institutions in each region which will create an opportunity for students, teachers and officials (DBE and unions) of that area to address local challenges to History and History curriculum delivery.

Last but not least, Barry argues that for regions to be effective, clear goals and a means to achieve them need to be identified.

Another SASHT regional representative in the Western Cape, Lindinxiwa Mahlasela, is well placed to promote the image of the SASHT via the many activities of the Iziko Museum in Cape Town where he works. This museum's Education and Public Programmes Department has four main objectives:

  • Teacher enrichment sessions which seek to enhance the knowledge of museum and school-based educators through curator or expert-led guided tours, workshops and seminars.
  • The development of worksheets that are aligned with the national curriculum, often in collaboration with other museum and school-based educators. One example would be the lesson plans and worksheets which Iziko staff designed for schools, demonstrating how heritage institutions can support local history, a theme for Grade 4.
  • Enriching and enabling museum programmes, for example social history guided tours, lessons and programmes reaching approximately 7000 learners and students every three months. Prominent events during 2013 included those that marked the Natives Land Act centenary; the Le Vaillant exhibition at the South African Museum which was used to teach the French Revolution as a Grade 8 topic; the "African Story of the Mother City" exhibition at the Slave Lodge which involved guided tours, educator workshops and worksheets that encouraged educators and learners to engage in oral research; the "OR Tambo: The Modest Revolutionary" exhibition; and a variety of events that promoted local history and oral history.
  • Various community-based outreach initiatives and public programmes on public holidays, all aimed at promoting history and heritage.

We look forward to an equally if not more active 2014.


Henriëtte Lubbe
Deputy Chairperson: SASHT


Annual conference of the South African Society for History Teaching (SASHT) Maritzburg College, Pietermaritzburg, 27-28 September 2013






Maritzburg College is proud to host the 27th annual conference of the South African Society for History Teaching on 27 - 28 September 2013


The conference organisers are delighted to announce that Prof Jonathan Jansen (pictured), the much-admired Rector of the University of the Free State, has agreed to deliver the conference's keynote address on Saturday, 28 September, on "Why the first year university students dread talking about the past - and what schools can do about it."

About the conference

The South African Society for History Teaching (SASHT) is the official mouthpiece of history teachers in South Africa, especially those at secondary schools and tertiary institutions. It is anticipated that about 150 - 200 teachers and lecturers will attend the conference, many from beyond KwaZulu-Natal.

Conference theme: Teaching and Learning History in a 21st Century African Classroom

The sub-themes of the conference are:

  • Disseminating research by historians in GET, FET and HET History curricula
  • Disseminating indigenous knowledge/local history/regional History in the classroom for a better understanding/complementing of curriculum themes
  • Bridging teaching, curriculum and examination constraints
  • Ways of overcoming the generational disconnect
  • Modern media: threats and opportunities
  • Keeping History alive and relevant in a 21st century classroom


The year 2013 marks the 150th celebration of Maritzburg College (right), KwaZulu-Natal's oldest boys' school. In a busy year, the school is hosting numerous sports and cultural festivals, tournaments and other events, and it is especially proud to host the 27th annual conference of the SASHT as part of those festivities.


The organisers have received over 30 excellent abstracts for papers and workshops, and have been able to put together a stimulating, interesting and varied schedule. The provisional schedule (as at 16 August), subject to final changes, is as follows:






Conference registration

Lecturers and teachers of History, researchers, and any other academics from the GET, FET and HET levels are invited to register for the 2013 SASHT conference, which (as indicated in the table below) this year will offer various registration options, to cater for the needs of locally-based delegates (Standard / Day Visitor), attendees who have outside accommodation (Out-of-Town Premium), as well as delegates who would prefer an all-in-one package that would enable them to make use of the school's own reasonably-priced, clean and safe accommodation (Stayover).

Conference options and costs



About the host school, maritzburg college

Founded in 1863, Maritzburg College is a state (ex-Model C) all-boys high school for 1 180 pupils, of whom nearly 400 are boarders. Situated on the same 25-hectare estate in Pietermaritzburg that it has occupied since 1888, it has over the last 150 years established itself as a leading South African high school. Amongst its former scholars it can count numerous senators, generals and admirals, 10 judges, arguably South Africa's pre-eminent English author (Alan Paton, who also taught at the school), 23 Rhodes Scholars and 235 international sportsmen.


The school offers a wide array of facilities suitable for a conference such as this one, including the historic Victoria Hall, which was completed in 1899 and used by the British Army as a military hospital during the first 10 months of the South African War; the Olivier Cultural Centre, which was the main venue for the successful 2012 International Boys Schools' Coalition Conference attended by over 250 delegates; renovated classrooms that each have internet and projector facilities; its new Leadership Development Centre; and a popular Old Boys' Club for any of the conference's more social needs.

Down-time / tour of historic pietermaritzburg

As can be seen above, some of the registration options include an invitation to the welcome braai to be held in the early evening of Thursday 26 September, on the eve of the conference, which commences on the following morning. Delegates are encouraged to elect a registration option that will allow them to attend this socialising/networking opportunity, in a relaxed environment overlooking the school's main sports-field, Goldstone's. On the last day of the conference, well-known local historian and SASHT stalwart, Simon Haw, will lead a guided, bussed tour themed "Pietermaritzburg: trekker dorp, outpost of empire and struggle centre" , at an extra cost of R100 per person.


A number of other options are available to attendees during their down-time in the KZN Midlands. For example -

 Karkloof Canopy Tours: This is a very popular tourist destination on the Midlands Meander, on the Karkloof road beyond Howick, about 40 km from Maritzburg College. Breeze along the treetops of the Karkloof forest on a zip-line 100m above ground! Go to

The popular Liberty Midlands Mall is only about 10 km away and offers shops, restaurants and movies.

Maritzburg College Museum: Lastly, for the more inquisitive, the school's newly-opened museum (see photo right, as opened by past Headmaster Mr DR Jury) - the beginnings of which, incidentally, featured in a workshop presented at the 2010 SASHT conference in Clarens - will be open on both days of the conference. Entrance is free and visitors are welcome.

Accommodation in Pietermaritzburg

Herewith please find information about some of the many B&Bs at which to stay in Pietermaritzburg.




The registration fees detailed above exclude the following -

  • travelling fees to and from Pietermaritzburg
  • airport transfers
  • accommodation unless specified above, in which case all such arrangements must be done by yourself
  • conference tour
  • additional items (such as the Karkloof Canopy Tour)

Payment of conference fees

Registration payments must be done as soon as possible in order to make use of the Early Bird rates. All payments are to be made into the following Maritzburg College bank account:

In all cases, kindly e-mail or fax your completed registration form with proof of payment to Maritzburg College, as per the instructions on the conference registration form itself.

Getting to Pietermaritzburg

Pietermaritzburg is easily accessible by car, bus and air, and the city's Oribi Airport is only a five-minute drive away from Maritzburg College. Should you require any assistance in getting to the conference, we recommend that you use Ms Donna Calmeyer of Travel Counsellors, whom the school regularly uses for their own requirements.




IMPORTANT: Please confirm payment of your conference registration fee by e-mail or fax (kindly include the date of payment).


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Van Eeden, Elize

This edition of the Yesterday&Today interestingly features several contributions from some Capetonian and Gauteng researchers//educators of History. Equally so this edition include three very valuable hands-on articles, developed by HET and FET educators, as considerations for practising History.

The first article by Noor Davids, titled: Is action research coming of age? - The value of a history action research in professional teacher development emphasises the pedagogical journey from a product-oriented to a process-oriented teacher. The focus is on action research which should sensitise the teacher to alternative teaching practices and critically reflective dispositions. In a similar pattern Jared McDonald and Jenni Underhill, in: Making history familiar: The past in service of self-awareness and critical citizenship, explores the process of self-reflection undertaken by a lecturer of History as a kind of critical innovative pedagogy that offers a deconstruction of the past to be utilised as a vehicle for promoting self-awareness as a pivotal mechanism for critical citizenship. In turn the utility value of oral history in context is deliberated by Karen Horn in Oral history in the classroom: Clarifying the context through historical understanding. She also suggests a method in which oral history recordings and transcriptions may be used to enhance historical understanding among learners by making historical context clear. The oral memories of veterans of the Second World War (1939-1945) are used and demonstrated as history lessons in especially the Senior Phase classroom as preparation for the FET Phase.

Another contribution prepared for teaching History in HET and FET in a more local/regional context is that of Francois Cleophas', Writing and contextualising local history. A historical narrative of the Wellington Horticultural Society (Coloured). By using documentary evidence and applying oral historical accounts a narrative of the Society has been developed. From this narrative, aspects such as competition, family history and the garden culture of the Coloured people (within political and social dilemmas of the time) are contextualised as valuable indigenous knowledge.

In a similar vein, but with a much broader and a critical-towards-Western-knowledge-emphasis, Morgan Ndlovu discusses, Why indigenous knowledges in the 21st Century? A decolonial turn. The apparent inability of Western knowledge production systems to provide lasting solutions to the most pressing challenges of the 21st century, has led to the emergence of the question of whether a different model of the world outside the Western-centred one can be imagined. Ndlovu takes up this challenging question posed by other intellectuals to imagine the idea of indigenous knowledge as a possible basis for another world outside that of Western knowledge systems. The potential of teaching this topic within history curricula are also covered by the author. Thereafter the hands-on articles follow.

Gordon Brookbanks efficiently and passionately reports on: Inspiring learners beyond the classroom walls: The what, why, who, where and how for organising curriculum-based "History tours", History teacher. Educators of History are challenged to consider excursions as part of the curriculum which stretches far beyond the walls of the classroom. Perceived organisational hurdles, departmental obstacles, and several other obligations or difficulties are addressed in favour of taking up the challenge and organising history excursions. Gordon shares his experience in the organising of Grade 12 curriculum-based 'History Tours' for his learners, and provides the what, why, who, where, when and how for organising such tours.

In Rob Sieborger's Whatshould history teachers know? Assessing history students at the conclusion of the PGCEyear he considers how student teachers' pedagogical content knowledge may be assessed in History and how the knowledge and understanding of History may be assessed together with core history teaching abilities, as well as the interaction of history skills and content. In this discussion issues of lower and higher order thinking, as well as authentic, formative and summative assessment are also raised.

The last hands-on article in which especially the GET and FET Phase educators could benefit from is presented by Sonja Schoeman and Clarence Visagie, titled: Local history teaching in the Overberg region of the Western Cape: The case of the Elim Primary School. Because it has been perceived that the Grade 8 learners of the Elim Primary School exposes an attitude of insignificance towards school History, and its relevance to their everyday lives, a research question was formulated to address this perceived short-sightedness of the learners. The research result, amongst others, pointed out the value of local history, and that learners had to be more actively involved in the local history of their region to experience the practice of History and the relatedness of content to broader historical contexts. A series of four hands-on local history lessons with as topic Heritage were developed. The case study resulted in step-by-step guidelines for the preparation and implementation of a local history teaching strategy. The historical imagination of the learners was also operationalized. It is hoped that educators of History will embrace this example in their own regions to ensure that History as subject becomes and remains alive.

Lastly the book reviews that should be noted thanks to the input of our new Book Review Editor Mr Marshall Maposa. Firstly the work of Francois Vrey, Abel Esterhuyse & Thomas Mandrup, titled: On military culture: Theory, practice and African armed forces (published in 2013) and reviewed by Bheki Mngomezulu. Thereafter a critical review is provided by Betty Govinden on her broader historical experience of the multi-authored publication of Ashwin Desai and Goolam Vahed as editors titled: Chatsworth: The Making of a South African Township (also published in 2013).

This edition of the Yesterday&Today also includes several important SASHT documents (and valuable reports on some regional activities by regional representatives) to allow for its availability to all members closer to the conference of October 2014. We sincerely hope that all educators of History will engage in the SASHT and that the Yesterday&Today as Journal will remain every educator in History teaching's valuable reporting mechanism of peer-reviewed and practical articles.

As this is the very last edition that I have taken the "last word" responsibility for, I will always have good and nostalgic memories of what has been achieved. To the team who supported me so passionately and promptly (from the reviewers to the editors and the final lay-out and redistribution staff) I want to thank all for their patience and hard work behind the screens. From this end onwards the Journal with its new editor from the December issue, namely Dr Pieter Warnich with assistance of Prof Sonja Schoeman, can only progress from strength to strength. I have always believed, and still believe, that if everybody in the discipline/subject of History can just contribute their bit to empower the broader history audience, then we will be a strong community of informed and skilled educators as well as researchers of History.

My sincerest wishes to all members of the Editorial Team and the Journal!

Elize van Eeden

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Is action research coming of age? The value of a history action research project in professional teacher development



M Noor Davids

Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Mowbray campus




The new B.Ed curriculum at the University of Kwazulu-Natal proposes the inclusion of a compulsory action research module to provide professional skills that teachers are expected to demonstrate. The Norms and Standards Policy for Educators requires teachers to be transformative. An appropriate educational component would therefore be required to fulfil this need. By acknowledging the potential that action research offers a transformational teaching model, this paper deals with a pedagogical journey from a product-oriented to a process-oriented teacher. Action research does not necessarily change the teacher but it sensitises the teacher to alternative, more democratic practices and a critically reflective disposition. In this paper a method of "self-reflexive historiography" is used that involves reflecting retrospectively on professional developmentand identifying valuable lessons for the present. The context of the transformational experiences was an action research history teaching project conducted for a M.Ed degree (Davids, 1991). The research question that informs this article is: what are some of the lasting influences of an action research project on a teacher's pedagogical comportment and what lessons were learnt that are relevant to teacher education today? Based on this case study, recommendations are made for the use of action research as pedagogy for professional practice in teacher education and in-service teacher initiatives.

Keywords: Norms and Standards; Action research; Transformational teaching; Professional development; Critical thinking; Teachers; Education.




Action research has recently been included as a research module in the new B.Ed curriculum at the University of Kwazulu-Natal. Before enrolling for the M.Ed action research degree, I was in possession of a postgraduate professional qualification which gave me confidence as an academically qualified and professionally competent teacher.1 However, after the completion of the action research Masters degree at the University of the Western Cape, I gained a different sense of myself and a different philosophy of teaching. In light of the current educational crisis, of which the lack of appropriate teacher education and professional development is of grave concern, it may be appropriate to reflect on what is lasting and worthwhile about action research knowledge and experiences in past practice. Wood (2014:660) asserts that an action research paradigm may offer suitable ways to navigate new educational pathways suited for improving and sustaining social life in the 21st century. Given that action research is often presented as an emerging model for professional development, the question arises: what are some of the lasting influences of an action research project on pedagogical comportment and what lessons were learnt that are relevant for teacher education today?

When the democratically elected government came to power in 1994, it inherited a complex education system. Nineteen departments of education catered for different provinces, homelands and population groups structured under a single education department (Msibi & Mnchunu, 2013:23). The second significant step for the new government was the announcement of Curriculum 2005 (C2005) in 1997 and implemented in 1998. This was the post-apartheid government's educational plan to transform the apartheid-formulated education policy (Harley and Wedekind, 2004:195). Outcomes-based education (OBE) was intended to replace Christian National Education (CNE) - a symbolic break from the past. It set out to promote a democratic and egalitarian philosophy of education (National center for curriculum research and development 2000). However, this notion of OBE as a paradigm shift has been disputed by some and supported by others. Given the parameters of the National Qualification Framework (NQF), the implications for what is taught, how it is taught and how learning is assessed would arguably change the hierarchical structure of schooling. On the contrary others see little or no change and insist that "this is how we have been teaching all along and that C2005 does not have the depth and magnitude to be considered a paradigm shift" (Arjun, 1998: 20).This notwithstanding, the critique "Why OBE will fail" (Jansen, 1997) was devastating and undermined the pedagogical integrity of the new curriculum which subsequently underwent revisions in 2000 and resulted in educational reforms. The most recent of these has been launched in 2011 - Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS).

Teachers often stand accused of neglecting their professional responsibilities as stipulated in the Norms and Standard policy of the Department of Basic Education (Department of Education, 2011:52). Viewing teaching as a profession, I adopt Talburt and Mclaughlin's (1994) understanding of the profession as being identified with specialized knowledge, shared and standard practices, a service ethic, a strong personal identity, some formal controlling authority and accountability. The focus in this paper is my experience in a history teaching action research project that had lasting effects on my pedagogical philosophy and practice. While agreeing that the present educational sector is inundated with complaints of unprofessional teacher behavior (Msibi & Mchunu, 2013:25-28), the focus ofthis article is on personal transformation as a professional practitioner - the path from a traditional, to a more engaging and learner-centered educator. More specifically, what needs to be related is the realization of inadequate teacher training 2 and how certain fundamental shifts in teaching philosophy in the context of an action research can happen. Initially, my teaching pedagogy was mainly teacher-centered. But, through deeper understanding in the context of action research, my own practice was challenged. The realization of a need to change grew slowly. Teacher education is, however, still grappling with the problem of shifting theory and practice towards learner-centered pedagogies. Without offering any ready-made solution, my experiences may retrospectively provide valuable pedagogical lessons worth sharing with others. This paper argues that action research provides a suitable pedagogical framework for professional practice to enact the Norms and Standards Policy requirements during teacher education programmes. Core aspects in the Norms and Standards Policy are highlighted.

Current teacher education programmes are still struggling to make a successful transition from teacher-centered to learner-centered pedagogy. An analysis of final-year History Method students' "philosophy of teaching statements" Wassermann (2009:86) asserts that students failed to relate to the schooling system because their statements were focused mainly on an uncritical acceptance and preoccupation with learner-centeredness as a teaching strategy. Ideological and theoretical issues were largely left unexplored. "Learner-centeredness was adopted as an act of "performativity" rather than engaging meaningfully with the context of education. The concept "performativity" is based on Ball's notion that performance works in a disciplinary system of judgments, classifications and targets to which teachers and schools must strive and through which they are evaluated... " (Ball, 1998:190). In his analysis of data on learner performance in numeracy and literacy, Spaull (2012:125) comes to the conclusion that most schools in poor areas in South Africa are dysfunctional and unable to equip students with the necessary numeracy and literacy skills they should be acquiring at school. Responding to the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS), Msibi and Mchunu (2013) claim that the policy fails to account for the lack of teacher professionalism. The policy has its roots largely in the historical apartheid construction of teachers as conveyors of knowledge rather than active agents towards self-dicovery.

Drawing on pedagogical experiences as a learner and teacher under the apartheid system of education, a "self-reflexive historiographical" approach is used here to explain personal transformational experiences from a product-oriented to an emancipated, process-oriented teacher. A self-reflexive historiography traces conditions and processes through which subjects have become professionals trained within disciplinary orthodoxies and conventions of power and knowledge (Coloma, 2011). Emancipation from those historical conditions needs a self-reflexive pedagogy to subject experiences to critical examination.

Following this introduction as background, the article unfolds as follows: theoretical framework, a brief statement on action research methodology, locating the study in action research literature, reflections on two action research projects in a history classroom, critical reflections on the projects. In conclusion, a case is made for an action research approach in teacher education with some recommendations for professional teacher education.


Theoretical framework

Self-reflexive historiography is based on Foucault's notion of self-articulation as an expression of knowledge and power within a disciplinary context (Coloma, 2011:192). Educational discourses are social constructions of knowledge articulated as a result of an expression of power. Self-reflexive historiography emerges from different levels of discursive practice that may influence the discourse in a myriad of ways. Discourse is never fixed and stable: it changes with the shifting of subject positioning. Wetherell (1998: 387) views discourse as an expression of a multiple concept of self which is key to understanding that teachers as human subjects have transformatory capabilities.

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