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Yesterday and Today

versión On-line ISSN 2309-9003
versión impresa ISSN 2223-0386

Y&T  no.21 Vanderbijlpark jul. 2019

http://dx.doi.org/10.17159/2223-0386/2019/n21a2 

ARTICLES

 

Learners' imagination of democratic citizenship in post-apartheid South Africa: Exploring critical literary pedagogy in History teaching

 

 

M Noor Davids

University of South Africa. davidmn@unisa.ac.za

 

 


ABSTRACT

Post-apartheid South Africa struggles to develop a sense of social cohesion and nationhood, which remain largely unfulfilled constitutional imperatives. The pre-amble of the post-apartheid constitution (1996) recognises amongst other things, the "injustices of our past, ... that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, and (to) lay the foundations for a democratic and open society". The Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) creates space in the history curriculum to address democratic citizenship and social cohesion. Due to a racially fragmented history, South African nationhood is still a future-oriented project for the attention of the state, and in the context of this study, the education sector. This article reports on an exploratory history lesson, teaching democratic citizenship for social development and nation-building. The lesson was presented to grade 10 learners at a township high school in North Pretoria. A "critical literary pedagogy" (CLP) approach was employed as a pathway to teaching social cohesion and nationhood, through historical reflection and imagination. A CLP approach has a commitment to change and employs literary texts as learning material. The article responds to the research question: What is the potential role of CLP as an approach to the teaching of democratic citizenship in a post-apartheid classroom? As conceptual framework "cosmubuntuism", a combination of cosmopolitan and Ubuntu values provides a theoretical lens to understand learners' imaginations of democratic citizenship. Five dominant themes emerged from the data, confirming the potential of CLP, but alerting to contradictory and critical outcomes of the lesson. Recommendations are suggested, inter alia, for teacher education institutions to use the CLP approach to address the didactical needs of history teachers to cultivate social cohesion and nationhood in the post-apartheid South African history classroom.

Keywords: Apartheid; Cosmopolitan; Cosmubuntuism; Critical literary pedagogy; Forced Removals; Social cohesion; Ubuntu


 

 

Introduction

This article explores school history's potential to teach social cohesion and citizenship education, through employing a "critical literary pedagogical" (CLP) approach to advance a sense of nationhood which is sorely lacking in the fledging South African democracy. A CLP approach has a commitment to change and it employs literary texts as learning material. According to the Curriculum and Assessment Statement Policy (CAPS), history teaching in South Africa includes the teaching of civic duties and the preparation of young people for local, national and global responsibility (Department of Basic Education (DoBE, 2011). The history curriculum also views historical evidence as tangible and intangible sources such as literature, suitable to be employed in the classroom to answer questions of the past (DoBE, 2011). For practical reasons, this article uses a small selection of the apartheid and forced removals literature as historical sources to teach democratic citizenship to grade 10 learners at a township school in Pretoria North, Gauteng Province.

Although apartheid legally came to an end in 1994, its de facto realities are still manifested in a spatial-material and socio-psychological racial legacy, in need of transformation. Teacher education institutions have a responsibility to train prospective educators to engage various pedagogies that will contribute towards nation-building and democratic citizenship. This article reports on an exploratory history lesson in which a CLP approach was adopted, using literary texts in a grade 10 history classroom with learners at a township high school in North Pretoria. The article responds to the research question: What is the potential role of CLP as an approach to the teaching of democratic citizenship in a post-apartheid classroom? As conceptual and analytical framework "cosmubuntuism" (Davids, 2018) which is a combination of cosmopolitan (Appiah, 1997) and Ubuntu (Tutu, 1999) values, is employed to interpret learners' understanding of democratic citizenship.

Using literature in the teaching of history is not an uncommon pedagogical approach. Brock and Brock (2009) have demonstrated how to teach the holocaust as a historical event with contemporary relevance. Other researchers argue that the last two decades have seen a revived interest in high-quality literature as pedagogical strategy to strengthen students' understanding of history in elementary and middle school classrooms (Crawford & Zygouris-Coe, 2008). The use of protest songs as a form of literature to illustrate a creative way of engaging learners in a history classroom, was reported by Msila (2013) who argues that music, as a literary and historical device has great pedagogical potential. Considering the nation-building challenges facing the teaching of history, Nussey (2018) contends that in the South African context, research should be undertaken in "reconciliation pedagogy" that is informed by a notion of Ubuntu, given the need to develop social cohesion.

The rationale for this article is thus to contribute towards the need for reconciliatory pedagogy given the background of colonialism and apartheid, while the purpose of the article is to explore the use of a small selection of apartheid and forced removals literature to teach history, using the CLP approach. According to Borsheim-Black et al., (2014), a CLP approach offers ideas to make history teaching more engaging and relevant, given that the task of the history teacher includes nation-building and democratic citizenship.

 

Background to the study

In contradiction to apartheid's racialized conception of citizenship, the post-apartheid constitution enshrined values of a non-racial democratic citizenship, in which the government is based on the will of the people and every citizen is equally protected by law (SA Constitution, 1996:1). The pre-amble of the new constitution (SA Constitution, 1996:1) recognises amongst other things, that the "injustices of our past, ... that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, and (to) lay the foundations for a democratic and open society". Non-racial citizenship is understood to mean that "race" will not play any role in defining the rights of a citizen. The concept "race" is used as a social construction. Race is an idea that has been shown not to be true, but it is seen by many as an almost indispensable part of their identity and frameworks to describe people's everyday worlds (Soudien, 2012). The notion of a "non-racial" society can be regarded as an imagination of a future ideal to work for and it can be understood as a negation of race as a defining category of people's rights (Anciano, 2016).

Considering the fundamental values of multiculturalism, non-racialism does not deny the diversity of people's cultural backgrounds. As this article will clarify later in its selection of literary learning material, it is crucial to note that a critical review of South African society shows that non-racialism existed in many vibrant communities before the National Party (exclusively "white") came to power in 1948. Those communities, which form the basis of this article's imagination of a future non-racial society, were destroyed by the Group Areas Act (1950) because they stood as empirical evidence against the official segregationist ideology of apartheid. Long before apartheid was enforced by the National party, cosmopolitan residential spaces abounded across the South African urban landscape. For instance, Brickford-Smith (2001) describes District Six at the turn of the 19th century as an example of a cosmopolitan community, arguably one of the most cosmopolitan in sub-Saharan Africa. Equally famous cosmopolitan communities destroyed by apartheid are Sophia town and Fietas in Johannesburg, South End in Port Elizabeth and Lady Selborne in Pretoria to mention a few. The cosmopolitanism of the past is well recorded and often hidden in the literature on apartheid and forced removals, as this study demonstrates.

After twenty-five years of democracy, the lack of a common sense of citizenship amongst South Africans flows largely from the unresolved national question. Benedict Anderson's theorisation of a nation may be apposite for the South African context when he asserts that a nation is "an imagined political community" (Gumede, 2015). Nationhood in a post-apartheid South African context is better understood as a community that shares common interests and respects its repulsive political history, through systematic restitutionary, reconciliatory and equitable sharing of resources (Gumede, 2015). South African nation-building is a delicate work-in-progress that should be a common responsibility of all its citizens. Although social cohesion is essential to the nation-building project, its uncritical acceptance as a prior condition should not ignore its potential downside. Palmary (2015) argues that negative social cohesion explains the occurrence of xenophobia and racism due to inherent elements of "them", and "us" when individuals and groups express their self-constructed identity. South Africans arguably lack a common core identity frame that transcends their troubled past and glues them as a citizenry in a country "that belongs to all who live in it" (The Freedom Charter, 1955).

This article explores the experiences of learners when they engaged the contradictions in the literature of an apartheid past and the ideal of a democracy enshrined in the new post-apartheid constitution of 1996. These aspects of history teaching may appear ordinary but are quite intriguing from a pedagogical perspective. While the purpose of history teaching includes the teaching of patriotism and citizenship (Barton & Levstik, 2008), these aspects of the curriculum are often neglected. In response to the need for creativity in reconciliatory pedagogy, CLP was explored as a viable history method to teach democratic citizenship.

CLP grew out of critical pedagogy (Freire, 1970) which focuses on raising awareness of inequalities, social justice and power relations (de Klonia, 2015). Critical pedagogy involves storytelling that is critical and hopeful with stories that tell of grief and oppression (Guilherme & Phipps, 2004). CLP "consumes, produces and distributes" ideas taken from literature to deal with historical narratives and aims to facilitate opportunities to discuss nation-building and democratic citizenship (Borsheim-Black et. al., 2014). CLP focuses on the meaning of language in the texts from which the teacher highlights hidden ideas and practices for deeper discussion and reflection (Skolverket, 2014).

To achieve the outcomes of the CAPS history objectives (DoBE, 2011) it is required for teaching to be sensitive to learners' socialisation and cultural background. The South African classroom is not immune to the presence of "difficult knowledge" (Levy & Sheppard, 2018) as apartheid's impact on both blacks and whites cannot be underestimated. It is challenging to engage school going children with "difficult histories" through commonly used pedagogies and existing history curriculum frameworks (Metzger, 2018). The traumatic and difficult histories concealed in the curriculum require intelligent decoding without losing the learner who is a future citizen. The emotional burden of history is however not restricted to the learner. More important is the teacher who must implement a curriculum riven with emotions and trauma. In this regard, Zembylas (2014) warns against a purely rational approach to historical critique when approaching the past through critical pedagogy.

Having argued that history teaching should contribute to social cohesion and citizenship, this study explores CLP as a viable pedagogy. Following the preceding introduction and background to this study, the rest of this article unfolds under the following sub-headings. Firstly, as conceptual framework the concept "cosmubuntism", will be explained as analytical lens to interpret learners' responses to the lesson content. Secondly, a methodological note explains what CLP is, the context of data collection and how data were analysed.1 Thirdly, the findings and discussion are presented, followed by a conclusion that reviews the research question and summarises the article, providing some implications of the study for history teaching.

 

Conceptual framework: Ubuntu, Cosmopolitanism and "Cosmubuntism"

The notion of a South African sense of nationhood is arguably a futuristic project. Fortuitously, the new state adopted as coat of arms, the source of African humanist philosophy, the Khoi-san expression "!ke e: /xarra // ke", meaning "diverse people unite". Along-side this expression is the Zulu phrase: "umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu" - meaning, a person (human) is a person through other people (humans), or "I am what I am because of who we all are" (Kabantu, 1999). These expressions convey a unitary concept of humanity that is diverse in its cultural multitudes. Archbishop Desmond Tutu uses the concept "Ubuntu" as meaning "generous, hospitable, friendly, caring and compassionate", and explains that people belong to one another. To underscore the centrality of humanity instead of individuality, Tutu further explains that it is not "I think therefore I am", as expounded by philosopher Descartes, but rather, "I am human because I belong" (Tutu, 1999).

In support of the argument that African society had its own indigenous notion of being human which contains cosmopolitan and humanitarian values, Murithi (2009) referred to early African societies as "Ubuntu societies". According to Murithi (2009) "Ubuntu societies" existed before colonialism and provided the initial "social capital" that made human interaction amongst culturally diverse people possible. The concept social capital is apposite to use here with reference to aspects of a social structure which facilitates norms and governs behaviour of individuals in their relationships with members of a society (Coleman, 1990). The presence of Ubuntu became discernable in later evolution of cosmopolitan communities such as District Six, Sophiatown, South End, etc. that were destroyed during apartheid. These communities had their origins in prototype Ubuntu communities and became multi-cultural in composition, an expression of the fact that people from diverse religious and cultural backgrounds can peacefully co-exist as one community.

Cosmopolitanism has its origin in ancient Greek philosophy that describes the ideal citizen as "a citizen of the world" or global citizen (Ribeiro, 2005: 19). Appiah (1997) regards heterogeneity and difference as enabling spaces of cosmopolitanism. He argues that culture and difference should not impede consensus reaching, but rather promote it (Appiah, 1997). According to Nussbaum (1996), the cosmopolitan is "the person whose allegiance is to the worldwide community ofhuman beings, of diverse ethnic extractions, beliefs and political persuasions that stand "in relation rather than in opposition" (Eze, 2017). In South Africa xenophobia and racism are signs that cosmopolitanism still has a long way to go. Theoretically, the concept of cosmopolitanism is both fixed and utopian and not flexible to accommodate the dynamic and ever-changing nature of society. To allow for a decolonized, inclusive, African notion of citizenship with space for evolution towards global citizenship, cosmubuntism is suggested (Davids, 2018).

Cosmubuntism is derived from the concepts cosmopolitan and Ubuntu. Cosmubuntism embraces respect for human dignity (Appiah, 1997), reciprocal generosity and hospitality based on a common humanity (Tutu, 1999). Cosmubuntu communities display characteristics of both cosmopolitanism and ubuntuism. Traditional Ubuntu communities were less multicultural than Cosmubuntu communities. Based on the combined characteristics of cosmopolitanism and Ubuntuism, cosmubuntu communities have the following characteristics: heterogeneous in terms of their population; display cultural diversity; operate on the basis of respect, human dignity, and tolerance; show generosity, caring, and compassion; foster a sense of belonging; and are in a state of ever-changing and becoming as contained in the Khoi moto and instruction: "diverse people unite" (Davids, 2018). Cosmubuntism will be employed as analytical and conceptual lens to interpret grade 10 learners' conceptions of nation-building and democratic citizenship. What follows now is a methodological note that informs the context of data collection and analysis that led to the construction of emerging themes formulated as findings of the study.

 

Methodology and CLP texts

This is a small-scale qualitative study that explores how forty (40) grade 10 learners responded to a lesson on apartheid and forced removals literature, using the CLP approach. The value of CLP lies in its method of using literary material in a critical way that highlights the hidden aim and meaning of a text (Skolverket, 2014). CLP has no clear-cut method or ready-made plan (Skolverket, 2014). In this lesson, CLP guidelines offered by Borsheim-Black, et.al. (2014) were adopted. For the purpose of this study a classroom activity sheet consisting of literary texts (Appendix A) was presented to the learners.

The study was conducted at a township high school where access to the learners was facilitated by the coordinator of a community engagement project of a South African University in Gauteng Province. Ethical clearance to conduct the study was obtained prior to the project as part of the community engagement research. Arrangements were made for a grade 10 class to be taught a lesson on an aspect of the history curriculum: democratic citizenship and nation-building. Lesson material consisted of a synopsis of texts from three literary figures' selected works: Ingrid Jonker (Fischer, 2018), Alex La Guma (Yousaf, 2001) and Richard Rive (Daymond, 1986). Learners participated in the lesson and completed a post-lesson qualitative question sheet, which became the primary source of data.

In addition to the biographical and content questions, learners were specifically requested to respond to two open-ended questions: learners' reflections on apartheid and forced removals, and their relevance in developing a democratic society and nation-building. The questions were subjected to close thematic analysis (Bertram & Christiansen, 2014), using colour-coding to identify a common use of words, phrases and expressions. These were used to construct coherent categories and themes which are presented below as findings of the study.

 

Findings and discussion

The objective of this study was to explore the potential of a CLP approach as a feasible reconciliatory pedagogy (Nussey, 2018) to teach democratic citizenship and nation-building. Based on an application of the analytical conceptual lens explained above, the emergent themes from the learners' responses can be regarded as positive, negative and ambiguous. In this section, the positive findings will first be presented, followed by negative and ambiguous. Each finding is supported by quotations from learners and a discussion on its significance and relevance to the research question.

Imagining Ubuntu and equality

Out of a possible forty (40) learners, forty percent used the word Ubuntu when describing their aspirations for social cohesion. These learners emphasised that Ubuntu is relevant and applicable to all South Africans, irrespective of "race". Learners tend to use terms such as "love", "respect", "equality" and "Ubuntu" in association with each other. Ubuntu is often mentioned together with the desire that "all should love each other" (learner). Very closely related to Ubuntu was the expression of "respect" which is fundamental in a relationship of mutual recognition. "Equality" appeared in expressions such as "all must be treated equally", "white must treat blacks equally", "live equally" and "respect and live equally".

Learners are inclined towards Ubuntu as part of their sense of being. They engaged various texts in the lesson that alerted to the oppressive nature of apartheid and responded with the ideals of "love, respect and equality". They saw the need for a changed attitude towards the historical oppressor, but they also identified hope for the future which is inspired by the values expressed in the new constitution.

As is evident in the data cited above, learners were confronted by the contradictions in the text between oppression and hatred and the idealism such as non-racism, non-sexism and equality, enshrined in the new constitution (1996). For example, learners were sensitised to the grief in the poem The Child(Jonker's text, Appendix A) and the multi-culturalism in the text on District Six, where black and white were living together (Rive's text, Appendix A). The history of forced removal communities such as District Six, were arguably practical expressions of historical cosmopolitanism to which school going youth were be exposed. The dominant theme of Ubuntu and equality that emerged from learners' expressions can be explained as an outflow from their social environment and education that frames non-racism as an ideal for the future (Anciano, 2016). A forty percent positive identification of Ubuntu as a dominant theme, may be regarded as hope for future social cohesion, given the negativity of apartheid's historical literary texts to which they were exposed. As builders of a future nation, these learners show signs that they want to belong to an imagined future community (Gumede, 2015).

Using CLP in the history classroom played a progressive role in exposing black learners to apartheid forced removals as demonstrated in the literature of Rive and La Guma. These authors were uncompromising in their critique of apartheid yet, learners accommodated the ideals of Ubuntu and equality as essential for developing a democratic nation. As examples of 'difficult knowledge' (Levy & Sheppard, 2018), forced removals and apartheid were taught to learners. When engaging difficult knowledge, traumatic experiences emerged from the texts, e.g. in Jonker's The Child, where an innocent child was shot dead elicited emotions of anger and hatred (Zembylas, 2014). The CLP method includes "consumption" of text when a teacher engages learners and learners were involved in reading, listening and reflection. Learners were involved in "production" and "distribution" when they responded to the questions on the task sheet and formulated their responses based on their learning. The CLP approach allowed engagement with difficult apartheid historical knowledge, which made it meaningful as critical thinking and reflection were initiated as processes that will hopefully continue during the learners' future schooling.

Imagining togetherness and mixing of black and white citizens

Learners used the term "togetherness" with the same frequency that they used Ubuntu. Forty percent of learners used "togetherness" alongside "mixing of black and white" as a positive expression of their imagination of a multicultural nation. They used mixing together with "mixing schooling", "mixed country" and "mixing black and white together". The notion of togetherness emerged strongly with "be together as one", "stay together as one", "stand together as one nation", "live together" and "together build a future". "Togetherness" emerged from the data which is indicative of a positive futuristic imagination of a non-racial South African society. Based on the analysis of a question probing the experiences of friendship beyond the group that the learners belonged, the overwhelming majority indicated that their relationships with friends other than African is minimal. For example, 45 percent has only African friends and only 20 percent has "coloured" friends, etc. Table 1 provides an analysis of the responses of learners to the question below:

 

 

The small sample of learners may not have any generalizable value beyond this study, but it provides a glimpse into the number of multicultural relationships of a group of grade 10 learners at a township school. Given the limited exposure of township learners to multicultural living, their inclination to have an imagination of "togetherness" and "mixing", may be ascribed to their exposure to the constitutional discourses and public utterances of democratic values. Imagining the ideal of citizenship and living together in a free society are necessary steps towards transformation and social justice as expounded by Freire (1970). Learners' critical textual engagement with historical events such as apartheid legislation (Group Areas Act, 1950) and political oppression (Sharpeville killings, 1960) through the literature of Jonker, Rive and La Guma, contributed towards their historical consciousness but simultaneously nurtured a positive disposition towards democratic values.

As an approach to history teaching, CLP has a commitment to social change which is positively expressed in the constitutional ideals which are offered as a solution and common purpose for future citizenry. CLP differs from traditional transmission teaching pedagogy's reproduction and regurgitation of existing knowledge as it compels learners to engage critically with the past, present and future (Borsheim et al., 2014).

Imagining democracy as future hope

The third dominant theme that emerged from the data is learners' use of "democracy". Learners expressed themselves using the following phrases: "Democracy will be the one thing that we will stand for"; "... apartheid must not come back in South Africa because we will work hard to build democracy"; "... In a democracy, everyone should live a better life" (Learners extracts). While learners seem to respond positively towards the notion of embracing the values of Ubuntu, togetherness and democracy, they express these views with some apprehension of the harm that apartheid caused especially to blacks.

Notwithstanding the legal status of South Africa as a constitutional democracy, transformation of the colonial-apartheid social structure in line with the post-apartheid constitution, remains a project in progress. Given the background of past discrimination and unfair practices, democracy is touted as a socially just solution for learners to live meaningful lives. Learners are exposed to democratic practices such as national elections, parliamentary representation and access to educational institutions of their choice, which strengthen their resolve in democracy as the pathway for future success. Their imaginations of a democracy are positively embraced as it promises a "better life" for all citizens.

While a CLP approach may promote critical thinking, learners felt the burden of challenging their social status as members from a historically disadvantaged section of the population. Critical pedagogy places the responsibility of the future on the individual learner who must manage the pain, anger and trauma of the past to work towards success (Metzer, 2018). The use of CLP as approach to citizenship education is an ongoing process that requires consistency and support from the teacher and society. In this study, the approach showed potential in the teaching of democratic citizenship, but it does not eliminate the burden of having to engage the negative emotions and knowledge inherent in the critical method. The following two themes provide some indication of the emotional and ethical dilemmas that both teacher and learner faced when CLP was employed as a progressive teaching pedagogy.

Learn from history: Enduring historical pain

Although the learners in this study were born after the abolition of apartheid, negative memories of the past seem to have the potential to stifle social cohesion. This notwithstanding, the data below show that learners expressed a desire to live in a better country with all its diverse communities. A learner asserted that (we should) "Live together, not like the past and become stronger as one nation". Another learner stated that "... white people should make peace with Africans and don't live in the past but not to forget the past". But not all learners were so critical of the past, some expressing a view that the past should be placed behind us and the future should be the focus. "... leave the past and focus on the future" and "... forget about racism ... ". "Forget the past and grow South Africa". Learners were often confronted with the contradiction to "forget" the past or "not to forget" (but to remember) which causes ambiguity and trepidation about the future. There is however a concern that some learners were stuck in a negative understanding of the past, especially their views on forced removals as a brutal and unjust apartheid practice, which cannot be ignored in history teaching.

The use of textual material that reflects apartheid history, brings the learner and teacher closer to events of the past, creating opportunities for open discussion. During the lesson presentation, learners were referred to cosmopolitan values in the texts. They received information which led to new moments of learning. In Jonker's poem, they learnt about apartheid brutality and oppression but through the use of metaphor, they also learnt that the future belongs to The Child who symbolises a universal struggle for a better world (Viljoen, 2014). The Child is part of a cosmopolitan, global community that rejects the oppressive control of state authority. In Buckingham Palace, Rive's cosmopolitan District Six demonstrates how multiculturalism survived despite the official segregation policies of the white minority rulers (Daymond, 1986). Perhaps an apposite point to highlight in La Guma's text was how the author predicted the squalor of apartheid in A walk in the night and the optimism that he sees in a "new dawn" that will be brought by the beginning of a new day which symbolises the end of apartheid and hope for a better future (Yousaf, 2001).

The CLP approach brought together in one teaching moment the endurance of historical pain alongside the hope to aspire for a better future. Because some learners were caught between the tension to "forget" or/and to "remember" the awkwardness of the past, is indicative of the learning process of knowing and having to face the inevitability of living with it. As young learners, they will hopefully grow into mature adults, with an appreciation for the complexities of human history.

Living with forced removal memory

A learner expressed the view that "... forced removals was very painful because our grandparents were comfortable where they were ... but they were forced to follow the rules (meaning they had to move)". Another learner noted that "... forced removals removed blacks and apartheid was abusive ..." Learners expressed a view that apartheid was still alive in the following statements: "... Stop practicing apartheid, ", "Apartheid must stop", "Treat all with respect and not base treatment on skin colour". Some learners expressed antagonism towards whites which requires serious attention beyond the classroom. "... Whites want to take the world and enslave blacks". "White people like to fight with blacks ... ". "Arrest those responsible for apartheid". "Accept each other despite difference" and "... we are the same inside".

Forced removals and the Pass Laws are some of the most recent memories that older and young generations of black South Africans have of apartheid. Forced removals were vigorously implemented by the National Party after the Group Areas Act (1950) but has its roots in the colonial policy of segregation dating back to the occupation of indigenous land and more recently the 1913 Land Act that created black reservations and homelands. Learners recalled the humiliating "dompas" which many apartheid adult generation urban blacks experienced. The apartheid government made use of the Pass Laws that required all urban Africans to carry a "dompas", to allow them to work in a city (Welsh, 2009). It seems that Ubuntu values and acceptance of cosmopolitanism in a future democracy offer some countenance to the negative memories of forced removals and Pass Laws with which learners and teachers must live.

Radical views amongst learners in a South African classroom should not be unexpected. South Africans are a diverse population and their experiences of the past are also diverse. While the findings in this study portray mixed perspectives of the past, hope for a democratic nation featured prominently in the imagination of the learners. Because a CLP approach intends to promote critical thinking, it assists in challenging teachers and learners not to view the historical past in a biased and one-sided way.

 

Conclusion

Given the need to explore creative reconciliatory history pedagogies to teach democratic citizenship education and nation-building, this article responded to the research question: How relevant is a CLP approach in the teaching of democratic citizenship in a post-apartheid classroom? This paper explored the usefulness of a CLP approach (Borsheim-Black, et.al., 2014) through literary texts of Jonker, Rive and La Guma, dealing with apartheid and forced removals as part of the history curriculum (DoBE, 2011). Given the challenges of social cohesion and democratic citizenship, the history teacher is expected to make a positive contribution through constructive teaching. This study has shown that a CLP approach in the history classroom has the potential to engage learners critically on sensitive issues by using literature as learning material. Learners were involved in processes of "consumption, production and distribution" when they engaged the texts, responded to questions and tasks and shared their ideas in class and amongst themselves (Borsheim-Black et al., 2014).

The five dominant themes that emerged from the analysis of learners' responses are indicative of their willingness to engage the difficult knowledge of the past. These themes are of a mixed kind, showing elements of cosmubuntism (Appiah, 1997; Tutu, 1999; Davids, 2018), in their understanding of democratic citizenship and nation-building. However, these themes are not overwhelmingly positive but rather confirm the potential of an emerging nation with democracy as an ideal. It is interesting to note that the two themes relating to their learning from historical knowledge about apartheid and forced removals underscores the need for an exploration with more reconciliatory pedagogies (Nussey, 2018).

Although this study was conducted with black learners, it may be prudent to apply the same approach in multicultural classrooms. While this study has a narrow secondary school (grade 9 to 11) curriculum focus, the pedagogical approach would be relevant at university level. For CLP to be successful, the importance of a well-trained history teacher is reemphasised. Zymbalas' (2014) advice on "difficult knowledge" and that CLP should be mindful of the "emotional burden" of historical knowledge, should inform teacher education programmes.

With the fortuitous announcement that history is destined to become a compulsory subject until grade 12 (Ministerial Task Team Report, DoBE, 2018), it is also recommended that teacher education institutions approach the subject enthusiastically and innovatively to increase learners' prospects of believing in non-racialism. It may be recommended, for example, to accelerate the imagination of togetherness and mixing of learners from different cultural backgrounds, that schools should exchange programmes and participate in intra - and extra curricula events on a regular basis. This study supports learners' optimism for a socially cohesive society but cautions that an appropriate classroom pedagogy to engage negative memories of the past should not be underestimated.2

 

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1 A synopsis of the lesson material is presented as Appendix A.
2 I would like to acknowledge the National Research Fund (NRF) of South Africa for funding the research. The article is part of a broader study on a project on District Six and Forced Removals.

 

 

Appendix A

Historical literature in the classroom

A small selection of the work of Ingrid Jonker, Richard Rive and Alex La Guma were chosen for the lesson. The selection of these authors was based on their association with District Six as a forced removals and apartheid case study (La Guma, Rive and Jonker). History teachers who may want to replicate the format of this lesson are free to select the literature which is familiar to them. For ease of presentation, the main literary content of the three authors are presented in table-form.

 

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