The teaching of literacy to English second language speakers in the foundation phase.

51  Download (0)

Full text


(2) DEDICATION I dedicate this piece of work to my late mother, Sarah T Modau and my three kids, Mashudu, Rolivhuva and Malindi. You always wanted what was best for my family and me. I am still holding on to the lifestyle you believed in. This is the best I could ever offer to my family.. 2.

(3) ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS My sincerest gratitude to the following people cannot be sufficiently expressed: God Almighty, from whom I receive wisdom, strength and countless blessings. My late mother who was supportive throughout my study since I was studying for my Teacher’s Diploma until her death when I was completing my Honours degree. She was baby-sitting all the time. She motivated me to continue with my study against all odds. She made it possible for me to attend school from childhood up to the standard she could afford. My children, Mashudu, Malindi and Rolivhuwa, who were left unattended while I was studying; they, too, were supportive in different ways. I set the trend for them to follow. They are wonderful, God bless them. Dr van Loggerenberg, my supervisor.. She is great.. Without her support,. guidance, counselling in times of need, inspiration and humility, this research essay would never have been accomplished. Thank you for everything. I don’t know what I would have done if it were not for your positive attitude during family problems while I was still at the beginning of my M Ed degree. A friend, Mr Silas Ramaphosa for his words of encouragement, and with whom I shared books and information. We discussed educational problems together and motivated one another. Group members from my previous degree who kept the lamp burning and oiled my knowledge: Alfreda Bilankulu and Lerato Mathejwa. God bless you. You have always been unselfish with information. I always wanted to be able to go on with my studies. Staff members of Sharicrest Primary School, learners of both the schools who contributed to the success of this study.. 3.

(4) ABSTRACT New vistas for research among educationists are being introduced through the implementation of the Revised National Curriculum Statement (RNCS), the second phase of Outcomes-Based Education (OBE) in South Africa that will be put into practice for the Foundation Phase from 2004. This essay seeks to engage at grassroots level with the people who are experiencing the new dispensation in the teaching of Literacy in the Foundation Phase: the educators, the learners and their parents and the district officials. It is a vital part of the change process, and the sustaining of the Revised National Curriculum Statement (RNCS), that the present reforms are encouraged at all centres of learning: to this end educators are being trained during their holidays. The revised curriculum aims are empowering both learners and educators, with a particular emphasis on offering learners the necessary opportunity to equip themselves for life in society once they have finished school. The setting of the study is a school in Gauteng, 90% of whose learners are from the informal settlement of Bekkersdal with its highly congested homes.. The. overcrowding in the shacks contributes to the difficulty of the learners in the area to master their work, and it is left to educators in the area to bear full responsibility for the education of the learners, for parents in the area are unable to be involved in the process for most of them are illiterate. Individual educators in the school, aware of the sociological factors that impact in a negative manner on the schooling in the area, are expected to “go an extra mile” to empower learners so that they, becoming literate, have the opportunity to construct knowledge by means of knowledge sharing, exploration, asking questions and active participation in the classroom.. 4.

(5) INDEX. Page DEDICATION. ……………………………………………………………………… 2. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS …………………………………………………………… 3 ABSTRACT INDEX. ………………………………………………………………………… 4. ……………………………………………………………………………… 5. Section 1:. ORIENTATION ……………………………………………………. 1.1. INTRODUCTION. 1.2. BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY. 1.3. THE RATIONALE FOR THE RESEARCH. 1.4. THE FORMULATION OF THE RESEARCH QUESTION. 9. ………………………………………………………… 9 ……………………………………… 10 …………………………… 12 …………… 13. 1.4.1. The research problem. ………………………………………………… 13. 1.4.2. The research question. ………………………………………………… 14. 1.5. FORMULATION OF THE CLAIM. ……………………………………… 14. 1.6. THEORETICAL EVIDENCE FOR THE VALIDITY OF THE PROBLEM AND FOR MY CLAIM…………………………………………………… 15. 1.7. THE RESEARCH METHODOLOGY …………………………………… 16. 1.7.1. Observation ……………………………………………………………… 16. 1.7.2. Interviews ………………………………………………………………… 16. 1.7.3. Literature review. ………………………………………………………… 16. 1.8. THE AIMS OF THE STUDY. …………………………………………… 16. 1.9. THE PLAN OF THE RESEARCH ESSAY ……………………………… 17. 1.10. SUMMARY ………………………………………………………………… 17. 5.

(6) Section 2:. THE THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK. ……………………………19. 2.1. INTRODUCTION. 2.2. DEFINITION OF CONCEPTS …………………………………………… 19. 2.3. THE LITERATURE REVIEW. 2.3.1. ………………………………………………………… 19. …………………………………………… 21. The need for a literature review. ……………………………………… 21. 2.3.2 2.4. 22 CHARACTERISTICS OF OUTCOMES-BASED EDUCATION PRACTICE………………………………………………………………… 24. 2.5. SUMMARY ………………………………………………………………… 24. Section 3: FINDINGS. DISCUSSION OF THE RESEARCH METHOD AND. 3.1. INTRODUCTION. 3.2. THE QUALITATIVE RESEARCH METHOD. 3.3. METHODS EMPLOYED IN THIS QUALITATIVE RESEARCH STUDY. 25. ………………………………………………………… 25 ………………………… 25 25. 3.3.1. Observation ……………………………………………………………… 25. 3.3.2. Literature review. 3.3.3. Interviews ………………………………………………………………… 26. ………………………………………………………… 26. Learner interviews ……………………………………………………… 26. Educator interviews. Focus group interview with parents. Joint narratives. …………………………………………………… 26 ………………………………… 26. ………………………………………………………… 27. 6.

(7) 3.4. THE PROCESS OF DATA ANALYSIS. ………………………………… 27. 3.4.1. Coding of data …………………………………………………………… 28. 3.4.2. Examples of categories formed ………………………………………… 28. 3.4.3. Description of categories ………………………………………………… 29. Stressfulness of teaching Literacy to grade one learners. Poverty-stricken community. Learner involvement. The educator’s role. The role of the district official (DZ) …………………………………… 31. The role of the parents (PR). 3.5. ………… 30. ………………………………………… 30. ………………………………………………… 31 …………………………………………………… 31. ………………………………………… 32. SUMMARY ………………………………………………………………… 32. Section 4:. DISCUSSION OF THE RESEARCH FINDINGS. ……………… 33. 4.1. INTRODUCTION. ………………………………………………………… 33. 4.2. HOW THE FINDINGS ARGUE THE STRENGTH OF THE CLAIM. 4.3. STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES OF THE STUDY. 4.4. IMPLICATIONS OF THE INQUIRY. 33. ……………… 34. …………………………………… 36. 4.4.1. Drastic changes required in teaching practice. 4.4.2. Availability of the educator ……………………………………………… 36. 4.5. CONCLUSION. 4.6. RECOMMENDATION. 4.7. POSSIBILITIES FOR FURTHER RESEARCH. LIST OF SOURCES. ……………………… 36. …………………………………………………………… 36 …………………………………………………… 37 ……………………… 37. ………………………………………………………………38 7.


(9) SECTION 1 ORIENTATION 1.1. INTRODUCTION. Each centre of learning is expected to prepare its learners effectively for the future to compete globally. The speed, at which knowledge is disseminated, with no hesitation, demands that centres of learning equip their learners with critical and analytical thinking skills. A thinker who is analytically and critically skilled solves problems more effectively, because such a person is free of prejudice and cannot be manipulated.. Educators are, therefore, expected to make a vital. educational paradigm shift from the talking and writing approach to a practice where there is always something to be called upon to construct. The imitation approach to learning has to make way for the outcomes-based approach, which is learner-centred, in contrast with the classic or traditional approach, which is content-centred. The old content-centred approach relies heavily on rote learning and leads to passivity on the part of the learners. This research is conducted assuming that the difference between the transmission model of the traditional approach to teaching and the constructivist approach is that the latter promotes lifelong learning. The new (or outcomes-based) approach accommodates the integration of existing (or prior) knowledge and is viewed as the basis for lifelong learning into the future.. This study has the potential to make a contribution towards. shifting the blame for poor performance in the Foundation Phase away from learners but recommending the retraining of educators. As they are being so trained during RNCS (Revised National Curriculum Statement) workshops, they are being equipped with the necessary skills to provide a learning environment that enables both educator and learner to search for meaning. This research essay is further destined to discourage the “ineffectiveness and inappropriateness of the teacher-dominated teaching method for Foundation 9.

(10) Phase (Grade 1) learner, where the torrential and sudden outbreak of knowledge requires that learners learn how to find, select, organise, interpret and use that knowledge”, according to Marlow and Page (1998:26). It is important to do research into the situation, because irrelevant methods and content used in the teaching of learners in the Foundation Phase may not yield good results, and the poor results become yet weaker as learners proceed to higher grades. It is also vital to research and study about preparing Foundation Phase learners, particularly Grade 1’s, to experience an authentic class situation. If these educationally fragile learners are not treated with care, they will be unlikely to develop a view of learning as a lifelong occupation. 1.2. BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY. The Bekkersdal informal settlement is one of the many informal settlements that were born with the new democratic South Africa. It is situated on the western side of Soweto, towards Westonaria. The area is inhabited by people from many different countries, for example Mozambique, Lesotho, Malawi and Swaziland, as well as South Africans. Some of these people are unfortunately the victims of child- and women-abuse, teenage pregnancies and a high rate of HIV/AIDS infections. Ninety percent of the population is illiterate. There are only two lawyers and a few teachers around the area. There are no doctors. It is a poverty-stricken area. There is a need to create an awareness of literacy amongst the people, and to make known how learners are taught literacy in the Foundation Phase, particularly in Grade 1, and how the GDE (Gauteng Department of Education) helps teachers to teach literacy in the Foundation Phase. I intend to explore teaching strategies linked to a theory of how people learn. These teaching strategies will emphasise the promotion of thinking and analysing, in contrast with accumulating and memorising information. I intend doing an inquiry so that its findings can throw light on and help address the same 10.

(11) problem that the Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) is seeking to deal with, namely the issue of how to stimulate a culture of teaching and learning in the Foundation Phase. The field of my research is the grade 1 class at Ipeleng Primary School, which was established in 1989. Geographically, Ipeleng Primary School is situated between the Bekkersdal Township and an informal settlement that was established to circum vent the housing shortage in Bekkersdal but in that process, created a shortage of school facilities. I believe that the teaching practice in this school is conducive neither to teaching problem solving nor to general cognitive development. In part this state of affairs leads to a situation where learners leave centres of learning without a working knowledge of reading and writing. Primary schools in Bekkersdal are over-crowded with learners and this leads to their under-performance. It is a poverty-stricken area. Furthermore, the informal settlement’s lack of infrastructure and services impacts negatively on education, with a lack of recreational amenities for the learners. It is imperative that the activity of learning and the context within which it takes place become a primary concern of centres of learning. To neglect this is to undermine the effectiveness of education. In this research, my main claim is that in their rush to finish the syllabus, educators adopt a teacher-centred, rather than a learner-centred, approach in their practice. I also claim that in a teacher-oriented approach, learners become passive because the teacher controls and disperses information, although some teachers do use both methods concurrently. Furthermore, I claim that teaching literacy in an OBE environment cannot be a success when educators focus on teaching learners to rehearse and repeat what has been taught. In addition, I make the claim that a cognitive teaching style does not offer the learners the opportunity to demonstrate their ability to think creatively and critically, as required in the COTEP document (1997).. 11.

(12) 1.3. THE RATIONALE FOR THE RESEARCH. This research is an attempt to redress the situation by conducting qualitative research with Foundation Phase educators and learners from Ipeleng Primary School, situated in the informal settlement of Bekkersdal. The Foundation Phase is the very first contact that a learner has with the formal educational environment. A weak foundation leads to a building being inherently weak: more time and money should be spent on the foundation, and the most skilled workmen should be employed in its construction. In the same way, the Foundation Phase – particularly Grade 1 – is one of the most important educational resources. Grade 1 learners need educators who are properly trained, and who execute their tasks with dignity, diligence and commitment.. The dignified manner of teaching, using proper methods, in. Literacy bears fruit as learners proceed to higher grades. A greater investment in funding Grade 1 learners in a school would result in better results: this might highlight where the problems lie with the teaching and learning environment. It is important to do this research, for it is not every person who has the ability to train and to teach Literacy in the Foundation Phase. Currently the observation is that there is much rote learning and passivity on the part of learners, with the teaching model leaving little opportunity for learners to express themselves or to think effectively. In an effort to improve the culture of teaching and learning, I claim that the GDE is exposing educators to the expectation of making paradigm shifts in the education field. Teachers are empowered by literature that helps them to realise that learners need to focus on thinking for themselves, rather than relying on what others have taught them. Parents need to be involved in helping learners with their homework, in collaboration with educators. The school system offers bursaries to all stakeholders to further their educational studies and holds inservice training and workshops for the RNCS.. 12.

(13) Assessing learners has also benefited from the GDE’s prescribed methods, for instance, the filling in of forms (Form 450).. The early availability of learning. materials in (Section 21) schools has given their learners an advantage, for there need be no delay in the implementation of effective learning. Circular 3/2003 of the GDE, however, paved the way for an additional R250 per Foundation Phase learner to be made available for the acquisition of learning and teaching support material (LTSM). The terminology of assessment and curriculum delivery is also an important factor in the move towards a learner-centred focus in the Foundation Phase classroom. The findings of this research will undoubtedly contribute to the literature that strives to address the methodological problems in centres of learning “production” of unemployable educators. It is essential that from the very earliest years of formal education, learners become actively involved in their own learning. Furthermore, the inquiry is intended to contribute to the literature that facilitates a paradigm shift of educators in the move to sustain, in terms of the RNCS, a pedagogy that is learner-centred and educator-facilitated and controlled: a practice that seeks to develop autonomous thinking abilities in all learners and encourages them to construct meaning for themselves. 1.4. THE FORMULATION OF THE RESEARCH QUESTION. In order to arrive at a research question, it is necessary to discuss the research problem. 1.4.1. The research problem. The negative effect of poverty and unemployment on the people of Bekkersdal and the surrounding informal settlements has led to a situation where learners have not been exposed to any early childhood, or informal, education. These learners arrive at school, unequipped for the experience, and there needs to be an adaptation of the Foundation Phase teaching in the Literacy Learning Area to accommodate their circumstances. 13.

(14) This essay seeks to explore the problems associated with the teaching of Literacy to English (second language) speakers in the Foundation Phase, and the efforts of the GDE to improve teaching practice, particularly in grade one. 1.4.2. The research question. Arising from the research problem, we can formulate the research question as follows: “What are the problems encountered by the learners in coping with the tempo and scope of knowledge dissemination at Ipeleng Primary School in the Bekkersdal township?” The answers to two sub-questions help to arrive at an answer to the main research question: 1. Where does the content-oriented approach, or “jug and mug” theory of education lead learners in this information age? and 2. What implications does the environment have on the education of learners? 1.5. FORMULATION OF THE CLAIM. The fact that children around Bekkersdal are not exposed to any early childhood, or informal, education, as well as the facts that they live in poverty and that some are orphaned by HIV/AIDS, calls for an investigation into how these learners can be helped in learning centres to solve the problems encountered with the teaching of Literacy in the Foundation Phase. The problems in Ipeleng Primary School affect all educators in the Foundation Phase; particularly in grade one, the founding class. In the language of the building metaphor, already introduced to this study, if the foundation is not strong, the house can fall at any time. There is an urgent need for the joining of hands between the grade one educators and learners, whilst not ignoring the other grades of the Foundation Phase. The GDE, and other NGO 14.

(15) educational experts, need to facilitate workshops that help educators to understand the need for change and for a new approach to accommodating learners, and to train them effectively in meeting the needs of their learners. In my opinion, this is the only way to address the problem. 1.6. THEORETICAL EVIDENCE FOR THE VALIDITY OF THE PROBLEM AND FOR MY CLAIM. Learners come to school with knowledge gained through incidental transmission in their mother tongue that has taken place before the start school. It is also characteristic that learners are exposed to their mother tongue, rather than to Language, Literacy and Communication (LLC1), and further, that their parents, too, were not exposed to early childhood learning. It is my intention to expose all teachers to the various ways of imparting knowledge within learning centres, and in Ipeleng in particular, so that this knowledge will benefit the people, both formally and informally. At the same time another issue can be addressed: by involving illiterate parents in the learning process, they can acquire literacy skills. The enhanced culture of teaching and learning can lead to the improvement of the school itself. The improvement of the school structure can be described as the changing pattern of relationships among many individual components of the school. environment,. for. instance. administrative. leadership,. teacher. effectiveness, curriculum development and community involvement. If one of these components lags behind, all attempts to improve the teaching and learning culture will be unsuccessful.. They further mention three stages of teaching. improvement. Firstly, there is refinement, which refers to the social climate of the school. Then there is the stage of renovation, including staff and curriculum development.. The last stage of teaching improvement is redesign, which. focuses on the examination of school mission statements and the development of long-term plans. These stages are all within the power of district officials, working together with teachers and community in the teaching of LLC in schools. 15.

(16) In my view there is a need for partnerships between parents and teachers, schools and other sections of the community to try and address the problems in the Bekkersdal community and, in particular at Ipeleng Primary School. When the problems in a community are left unattended, they spread and become overwhelming; almost impossible to tackle. 1.7. THE RESEARCH METHODOLOGY. The following methods form a part of the qualitative design. 1.7.1. Observation. I am a grade one teacher, and the Head of Department (Foundation Phase) at Ipeleng Primary School, and I have experience and first-hand information about teaching Literacy in this phase. I will observe my colleagues teaching grade one learners at Ipeleng. I will also visit other Foundation Phase (grade one) teachers to observe how they teach their learners and spend quality time with them. 1.7.2. Interviews. I intend to interview various categories of participants in the course of my study: learners in grade one, grade one educators, and parents of grade one learners, during parent contact. If the participants agree, I will use a tape recorder during interviews. Later that recorded data will be transcribed so as to be analysed. 1.7.3. Literature review. In the literature review, a thorough study of the available literature and other resources will be made, in order to derive a theoretical position for the research. 1.8. THE AIMS OF THE STUDY. There are two sub-aims of this research study. Firstly I intend to research the practice of teaching Literacy in the Foundation Phase, particularly grade one. The second aim is to investigate how the GDE is seeking to improve the culture 16.

(17) of teaching Literacy in the Foundation Phase. The overarching aim is to create an awareness of the need for a special emphasis on educating learners in grade one, particularly those who have not received formal early childhood education, pre-school or Grade R in crèches or kindergarten. 1.9. THE PLAN OF THE RESEARCH ESSAY. This essay consists of the four sections, the details of which are as follows: In this section, one, the setting of the inquiry is presented. The reasons for the research are provided, an analysis of the research problem is given and the foundations of the research question are discussed. A claim is also formulated and theoretical evidence for the validity of both the problem and the claim is discussed. Lastly the research methods employed in the study are discussed, and the aim and plan of the essay are provided. In section two, the theoretical argument for the field of study is supported from various sources. The position dictated by my claim, as well as the information derived from the literature review, is fundamental to the development of the theoretical position. Section three presents the research plan within the context of the inquiry, and describes the management of the data collected. Incorporated in this section is a detailed account of the sampling procedure, the data collection methods and the system for data analysis. It concludes with the construction of the final configuration. The last section, four, reflects the main findings of the study. It also discusses the final categories and my conclusions, together with the strengths and weaknesses of the study.. Finally there are recommendations for further. research. 1.10. SUMMARY. This study is an attempt to uncover findings that prove the need to improve the culture of teaching and learning for both educators and learners in the Foundation Phase at Ipeleng Primary School in Bekkersdal. This introductory 17.

(18) section provides an orientation to and a background of the study. The research problem was analysed, the research question and claim were formulated and the theoretical evidence for the validity of the problem and for the claim was given. The research methods used in the study, together with the study plan and aim, were also provided. Section two will focus on the literature survey relating to the education of learners and educators.. Here the theoretical arguments of the field of study will be. presented, and knowledge of the literature applied, while keeping the claim in mind.. 18.

(19) SECTION 2 THE THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK 2.1. INTRODUCTION. The focus in this section will be on the teaching of Literacy relevant to the focus on lifelong learning advocated by the RNCS. There are two main areas of focus in the teaching of Literacy: the content-oriented approach to education, and a constructivist methodology.. The former is associated with the transmission. method of teaching and leads to the “jug and mug” theory of education expounded by Carl Rogers (in Holdstock, 1987:27). The constructivist approach holds that learners construct their own knowledge and do not receive it from an external source; it rejects the educator-as-knowledge-dispenser traditional model of education (Marlow & Page, 1998:13, quoting Brummer). Evidence to support the need for a new methodological approach to teaching practice will be obtained from the views of various theorists, as well as some other literature that addresses the same or related issues. Different concepts that will be used during the discussion will be clarified, and the roles of the various stakeholders in the education process will be discussed. 2.2. DEFINITION OF CONCEPTS. Definitions of various concepts that form a part of the discussion are provided below. Centres of learning are places where learning takes place. These include early childhood development (ECD) schools, primary and secondary schools, adult basic education and training (ABET) centres, and universities. A constructive partnership is one, which is entered into by governance structures at centres of learning and outside bodies in order to enhance the development of the centre of learning. 19.

(20) The promotion of learning though learner activity such as questioning, investigating and problem solving is the main premise of constructivist learning theory. The form of education where the educator transmits all the information is known as content-oriented theory. Gunter (1982:12) argues that education is a deliberate, purposeful, systematic and responsible intervention of an adult in the situation of the child. He says that education aims at more than just knowledge, skills and independent thought: it is especially concerned with the positive formation of the moral character and the development of the entire personality of the emerging adult. Griessel, Louw and Swart (1991:14) define education as a normated act, saying that an educational action is guided by educational norms. They further explain that education is constituted by the presence of at least two people as a precondition for describing a particular inter-human occurrence as educative – the one person educates (educator) and the other is being educated (educand) (Van Rensburg, 2002:310). A person whose work involves educating at any level of education and in any education or training context is referred to as an educator. The role of educator may be formal or informal and include the roles of teacher, lecturer, parent, youth counsellor and others. A learner is someone who is learning. The range of learners stretches from childhood education to adult education, and replaces the terms “pupil” and “student”. An objectives literacy education programme, according to Brock and Beazley (1995:128), aims at parental participation in the learner’s education programme so as to develop parallel school-based and home-based activities Outcomes-based education (OBE) refers to a design for education, which is learner-centred and oriented towards results or outcomes, with the educator as a 20.

(21) facilitator. According to Thompson (1996:64), the word “parent” refers to a person who has, or who adopts, a child. It may refer to a mother or a father. In my own view, a parent is every person who is a mother or a father. A mother of an illegitimate child is a parent. With the predominance of teenage pregnancies in our society, it is very common to have young mothers and fathers. Unmarried mothers and fathers are also very common today. In South Africa, the Revised National Curriculum Statement (RNCS) is the result of revisiting Curriculum 2005, the curriculum, which initially introduce OBE to the country. The RNCS is also outcomes-based in nature. A sample is a small group drawn from a research population for the purpose of establishing, from the group, information about the population as a whole. The target group is a group of individuals, larger than the sample, from which we could like to generalise the findings of our study. 2.3. THE LITERATURE REVIEW. The focus of this section is to review the selected literature that deals with constructivism in education.. The perception of educationists regarding the. influence of informal settlements on education collaborates the beliefs of von Glasersfeld (in Julie, Angelis & Davis, 1993:6) of the need for activity for a learner to process information successfully.. The brief discussion of the two. different teaching and learning approaches will hopefully demonstrate the contrast between the traditional content-based method and the constructivist learner-centred approach.. The section also focuses on the roles that the. constructivist educator and the constructivist learner may play in the development of the latter’s thinking process. 2.3.1. The need for a literature survey. It is vital, in the opinion of Modiba (1998:5), to collect information from literature 21.

(22) and any other relevant material, and to select and implement that material in a systematic manner.. For a research essay to be relevant and effective, it is. imperative to consider an adequate range of material in this regard. Modiba explains that there are four reasons to conduct a study of literature. Firstly the survey defines the borders of the field of study; next it delimits the size and extent of the research, and thirdly it assists in evaluating the meaningfulness of one’s own feelings.. Lastly, the literature review enables the researcher to. critically consider her own research against other attempts. 2.3.2 The need for critical examination of the efficacy of learning programmes suggests the need for a constructivist strategy that takes into account both the learner and the learning environment (Lambert, 1996:8). My main sub-claim – that educators rush through the content in order to finish the curriculum – suggests that teaching in this mode does not help learners to learn effectively, particularly learners from informal settlements who were not exposed to ECD such as pre-school or Grade R. Egcen and Kauchak (1998) confirm my idea that effective learning is experienced only when learners are actively involved in forming relationships.. This further coincides with my sub-claim that actively. involving learners results not only in increased learning and retention of content, but also in improved thinking skills as anticipated by the COTEP document (1997). In order that a learner is able to build on previous knowledge, it is important to recognize the role that the Foundation Phase plays in a constructivist classroom. If there is no foundation, or some existing structure, to support the new knowledge, the probability of new learning taking place is slim. Piaget (1971) refers to “schemata” when referring to the knowledge that one has already constructed until that point in one’s life. Prior knowledge and learning form the foundation, and at times the cornerstone, of continuing knowledge acquisition. Many theorists, Piaget included, argue that as a learner constructs knowledge, she strives to organize her new experiences in terms of pre-existing mental 22.

(23) structures or schemes (schemata) (Bodner, 1986:873; Hussen & Postlethwaite, 1991:4480; Lambert 1996:10; Dillemans, Fensham, Gunstone & White, 1994:5; Spivey, 1997:11 & Richardson, 1997:3). The educator’s role in the teaching of Literacy in the Foundation Phase takes various forms, according to Collins (in Glatthorn, 1997:105). The first of these roles is that of modelling: the educator demonstrates and performs a task so that the learners can observe and in that process construct a conceptual model of what is taking place.. In the role of coach, the educator observes learners. carrying out assigned activities, putting forward hints and feedback where appropriate. Scaffolding and fading is the next role of the teacher. In the beginning of this stage (and stage here is simply a descriptor, an educator may assume this role at any time in his teaching practice, as required), the teacher engages in the scaffolding process, offering the learner hints and suggestions that lead to the solution of the problem. Gradually the teacher’s input fades away (the fading part of the role) as the learner assumes control of the learning process and progresses towards his goal of independent learning. When the educator assumes the role of articulator, she assists learners to articulate (or verbalise) their thinking so as to make the cognitive process visible. This is closely related to the role that the teacher plays in helping learners to reflect on their learning processes, and to measure their achievements against the. yardstick. offered. by. the. learning. achievements. of. other,. more. knowledgeable, learners. Foreman, Minnick and Addison Stone refer to the zone of. proximal. development. performance” (1993:19).. (ZOPED). as. “guided. practice”. or. “assisted. This is a Vygotskian theory that encourages. interactions among the learners. The sixth and final role of the teacher is the encouragement of exploration on the part of the learners (Glatthorn, 1997:8). Fensham et al (1994) refer to it as the stage in which educators allow learners to make whatever sense they can. 23.

(24) Learners put their understanding into practice, and use their knowledge. They form questions and formulate final answers. 2.4. CHARACTERISTICS OF OUTCOMES-BASED EDUCATION PRACTICE. According to Brown, Collins and Duguid, learners construct knowledge in authentic social contexts (1989:40).. Learners in the OBE classroom. demonstrate the ability to facilitate critical and creative thinking in working in groups. Those learners who are confident and responsible, and who are treated accordingly by the teacher, are ready for learning. The use of a spiral curriculum (i.e. introducing learning content from the simpler to the more difficult content), enables learners to arrange knowledge in a meaningful and logical sequence. In this approach, learners begin with a simple or inaccurate model and develop a deeper or true understanding of the concept. Once a learner feels that her inputs are valued by the educator, she feels invited and accepted, and becomes active in the application of existing knowledge to solve authentic problems. It is a characteristic of outcomes-based education that learners are encouraged to reflect on their learning throug hout the process (Glatthorn, 1979:7). Mezirow (1998:185) describes reflection as a “turning back on experience”. 2.5. SUMMARY. This section was directed and discussed based on some of the relevant literature pertaining to my research. A constructivist approach from both educator and learner is necessary, and learners must be given the opportunity to acquire critical and creative thinking skills. The findings of my research will hopefully help authorities in the GDE, and all other relevant stakeholders, involved in improving the quality of teaching and learning in the Foundation Phase, with particular reference to the teaching of literacy. In the next section, the process of the field study will be reported, both the process of data collection and that of data presentation. This field study is the empirical means by which the research question will be investigated. 24.

(25) SECTION 3 DISCUSSION OF THE RESEARCH METHOD AND FINDINGS. 3.1. INTRODUCTION. This section focuses on the empirical research procedures that were used to gather the data that led to the findings of the study. A qualitative method of research has been employed for this research study and this section starts with a description of qualitative research and a rationale for its use for this study. The method of data collection is then presented, after which the data is analysed. 3.2. THE QUALITATIVE RESEARCH METHOD. According to Strauss and Corbin (1991:21), qualitative research is a kind of research that produces findings not arrived at by means of quantification. It is concerned with understanding the social phenomenon from the participant’s perspective. Qualitative research collects data by interacting with participants. The research may use a case study design, meaning that the focus is on one phenomenon, which the researcher selects to understand in depth, regardless of the number of sites, participants or documents for the study. 3.3. METHODS EMPLOYED IN THIS QUALITATIVE RESEARCH STUDY. A description of the research methods used in this study follows. 3.3.1. Observation. For the purpose of collecting data, I observed the Foundation Phase learners and educators of Ipeleng Primary School, as well as at a neighbouring school, Seitide. In particular, I observed the teaching of Literacy and the efforts on the part of the GDE to improve the quality of Literacy teaching in the schools. My own existing knowledge of the learning area, derived from practice and from 25.

(26) workshops that I have attended added value to the observations that I made. 3.3.2. Literature review. The literature review described in section two investigates the sources of literature that will inform my study and offer a broad theoretical perspective within which to work. 3.3.3. Interviews. Three forms of interview were used in this study, as well as a joint narrative. The interviews are categorised as learner interviews, educator interviews, and focus group interviews with the parents of learners. Learner interviews. Learners were interviewed at school after Literacy classes to find out their views on Literacy, as well as to establish whether they do homework. Because the learners were minors, I obtained the permission of their teachers to record their answers to my questions. This was done due to the fact that most of these learners do not live with their parents, or do not have any parents to give consent to interview their children. Their words were tape-recorded, and then transcribed into raw data, which were later analysed. Educator interviews. Educators were interviewed to establish their position on teaching Literacy, and to find out how they are supported by the GDE with a view to improving the culture of teaching and learning – particularly with regard to that of Literacy in the Foundation Phase.. The educators’ permission was obtained to record these. interviews, subsequently their exact words were transcribed and analysed. Focus group interviews with parents. Some of the parents were brought together in small groups for the purpose of finding out their views on the teaching of Literacy at school. Flick (1999:4) explains that the dynamic of the group results in richer data than would otherwise 26.

(27) have been obtained – the meeting of minds, and the discussion surrounding disagreements lift the veil on the realities of life to a greater degree than would have been the case if the interviews had been one -on-one (Flick, 1999:4). Four parents from the Bekkersdal Township and informal settlement constituted the group for this interview.. I humbly requested their permission to record the. session, which permission was graciously granted.. The recording was. transcribed into raw data, and then that data was analysed. Joint narratives. Le Compte and Preissle (1993) explain that joint narratives extend and develop the narrative approach to data collection. Henning (2003) explains that where during observation it is only the researcher who tells the story of her observation, in the structure of a joint narrative, the interactivity between participants becomes the focus of the analysis. This has proved a most valuable technique in this research study.. In this case, the starting point of the joint narrative is the. observation of the teaching of Literacy in the Foundation Phase at Ipeleng Primary School. It is the interaction of educators and learners in their daily reality that offers value to this research technique. Most of the learners in this school are from the informal settlement described in section one. The permission of the participants was requested to record the conversations, and then the actual words were transcribed into raw data, and later analysed. 3.4. THE PROCESS OF DATA ANALYSIS. The point of departure for this process is an overview of the context of the educators, followed by analyses of the interviews with educators, parents, and learners, and lastly the joint narratives. The names of educators and learners have been withheld for the sake of anonymity, and educators have been referred to as “A”, “B” and “C” throughout the analysis. Flick (1999:193) explains that data analysis is one of the classical procedures for analysing textual material, no matter where it comes from, whether that material is from media products or from interview data. 27.

(28) 3.4.1. Coding of data. Bell (1993, in Mathibela, 1998:25) believes that the most suitable methods of data analysis are coding, categorising and clustering of data, while Miles and Huberman (1994) maintain that ascribing a descriptive word or phrase, abbreviated for ease of use, to notes as a code serves the same purpose. The raw data of this study was transcribed from the audiotapes and then the transcriptions were reduced into categories, with similar ideas being grouped together and codes allocated to the ideas. Strauss and Corbin (1994:63) refer to this process of reduction, or breaking down, as “first-level” coding.. At this level one examines, compares,. conceptualises and categorises data in pursuit of its analysis. To assist in this process, the researcher might ask a question such as “What is the major idea brought out in this sentence?” 3.4.2. Examples of categories formed. The table below depicts how categories are formed from ideas.. Example 1: Ideas: Ipeleng Primary School, as a centre of learning, is disturbed by the death of many parents from HIV/AIDS. Most learners are orphans, and some of these orphans are from child-headed homes. This has an impact on the school, because learners come to school hungry and the Primary School Nutrition Project (PSNP) cannot provide them with enough food for both school and home. As a result, learners are unable to learn effectively. The school was forced to use English as the language of teaching and learning because there are Zulu-, Sotho-, Tswana-, Venda- and Tsongaspeaking learners at school. Category: Environmental socio-economic factors around the Bekkersdal informal settlement 28.

(29) Example 2: Ideas: Learners cannot perform their homework due to parent illiteracy as they are unable to help their children. They are unable to supervise their children’s schoolwork. Some parents are responsible, but most of them are irresponsible and neglectful. Their shacks are very small and learners are unable to do their homework. Poverty plays a big role, as they are unable to buy a candle or a bottle of paraffin. Parents are unable to come to parents’ meetings because the employers of those who have a job don’t allow them to be absent from work or to come late. A few parents are domestic workers, while the majority are unemployed. Category: Poor parental involvement in assisting to improve Literacy teaching at Ipeleng Primary School Example 3: Ideas: Learners come to school late because they are from child-headed families and they all oversleep because there is no one to wake them up. They always miss the first session (the first period). They don’t do homework as they are orphans with no one to supervise them – some do stay with grannies who are unable to read and write. Because of poverty they were not exposed to ECD centres and did not acquire grade R skills. For them school is a new experience and the teaching of Literacy to these learners is a problem. Some of the learners literally die at school and the burden to bury a learner rests upon the school’s shoulders, due to the poverty of the home environment. Learners as young as grades one and two die as victims of HIV/AIDS. Category:. 3.4.3. Learner participation requires enhancement. Description of categories. A description of the categories derived from the data is provided below. 29.

(30) Stressfulness of teaching Literacy to grade one learners. During my visit to the grade one educators, I noticed that absenteeism is not a problem, for the slice of bread that they get at school attracts the learners. Those who would otherwise be absent try by all means to come to school in time for the slice of bread at break time. The learners live far from school in places like Zenzele and Simunye. Educators are in a “Catch 22” position: they are stressed knowing that late-comers have been locked outside, but they are also stressed when everyone is present, classes are full to capacity, and pursuing OBE goals to the fullest is difficult with fifty learners under your guidance. Another stress is the diversity of mother-tongue languages of the learners. Mastering the language of instruction, English, in Literacy is complicated by the need to explain everything in each learner’s own language. The stress of underresourcing has now been alleviated by the allocation by the GDE of an extra R250 to fund each learner’s stationery requirements and learning aids. Poverty-stricken community. The poverty-stricken community of the Bekkersdal area leads to teachers acting as social workers.. Educators donate clothes, food, and even money (where. possible) to cater for the orphans and the “neediest” of the needy so that effective teaching and learning can take place. Parents are supposed to be active stakeholders in the education of their children, but their poverty focuses their attention on life-and-death issues such as providing food and clothing, rather than on their children’s education. The feeding scheme in response to the state of poverty has eliminated the late arrival of learners, but all these issues impact on the teaching of Literacy, for they all affect the learners. The effect is extended to the educators who now have to fill the role of social worker as well. It is essential to address these basic issues, for if the learners are hungry, they are unable to comprehend, unable to construct simple sentences and unable to engage in the various activities of the Literacy classroom such as reading and writing which would demonstrate their achievement of the learning outcomes.. 30.

(31) Learner involvement. The learners indicated that they enjoyed group work, but that the size of the classes meant that there is no space to move around.. In the interview the. learners revealed that they understood the importance of working as a team, and also that co-operation between the learners helps them to learn better.. In. addition, they indicated that they liked learning Literacy in groups, for they could share and explain things to each other in their mother-tongue. It was apparent that active learning is taking place. The educator’s role. The educators said that they divided the classes into groups to teach them to work in groups and to learn to interact with each other. By so doing, the learners should master what they discuss in class. For them to gain insight into the Literacy learning area, they must participate in a school-readiness programme in grade 1, fo r these learners have not attended pre-school. The teachers adopt a strategy of guiding the learners from the known to the unknown, in this way helping them to master new words in English. New English words are always translated into their mother tongue and learners are encouraged to actively participate in the learning process. The social work of the educators who feed and clothe hungry learners not only contributes to solving the social problems, but also the learning problems in the Literacy class and fosters a culture of teaching and learning in the Foundation Phase. The role of the district official (DZ). The interview with the district official revealed that as a district they conduct workshops to equip educators to tackle the teaching of Foundation Phase Literacy.. It was confirmed in the workshop that educators had been sent to. RNCS workshops to upgrade their knowledge and practice. This training came about as the result of the fact that teachers were not competent to implement OBE, and tha t the RNCS (which replaces Curriculum 2005) is grounded in OBE theory. The lack of resources, arising from the inability of the poverty-stricken, unemployed parents being able to contribute financially, has been addressed by 31.

(32) the allocation of R250 in respect of all learners in Gauteng Province towards the teaching to take place. The role of the parents (PR). Parental involvement needs to be encouraged for the benefit of the learners. The focus group interview with learners revealed that parents should not relegate the responsibilities. They should play a prominent part regarding the manner in which the child is brought up at home, which will have a bearing on the way he views, and interacts with, teachers. 3.5. SUMMARY. The usual practice of establishing what qualitative research is, and contrasting it with quantitative research was proved to be unnecessary by this section. Qualitative research is believed to be a particularly appropriate method in educational research. This section has described the data collecting methods, and provided a description of the categories that arose in the course of the analysis phase. The findings of the inquiry will be presented in section four.. 32.

(33) SECTION 4 DISCUSSION OF THE RESEARCH FINDINGS. 4.1. INTRODUCTION. The findings presented in this section will be invoked to support and argue the validity of my initial claim. Further, the findings of this research are expected to address the research question posed in the early stages of this essay. The strengths and weaknesses of the study that are set out in this section will serve to indicate how the findings fit into the broader theoretical context of constructivist thinking and processing. 4.2. HOW THE FINDINGS ARGUE THE STRENGTH OF THE CLAIM. All the educators interviewed during the research expressed similar perceptions. Educators feel that the environment which learners come from is in vast contrast to the formal settlements, which surround them, and that encourages the technical and academic persuasion awareness they try to create. The educators’ perceptions are confirmed by the learners’ performance, since they rely on educators to supply everything that they lack because they were not exposed to pre-school or early childhood education. The parents of learners are illiterate. Poverty and unemployment deprive these learners of their early learning education and this leads to illiteracy in the Bekkersdal informal settlements. Learners from the informal settlement at Ipeleng Primary School, as my claim indicates, are inactive in knowledge-making.. The GDE and NGOs are. harnessing their expertise to present workshops for educators with a view to improving the quality of teaching and learning in this and other schools. Learners interviewed during the research revealed that knowledge discovered by their own effort lasts longer.. Learners acknowledged that they are. disadvantaged as far as their learning is concerned. They expressed a concern 33.

(34) that no single public library, nor even a library in the school, exists in an area that accommodates an estimated population of more than seven hundred thousand people. Learners’ inactivity is worsened by poverty and the pandemic that is decimating the population of Bekkersdal, leaving many learners orphans. These factors jeopardise their learning. The findings reveal that the learners from the Bekkersdal informal settlement are able to be a party to the synergistic effect on insight and solutions that come about through the use of group work. Educators interviewed during this study expressed the fear that learners from the school are easily susceptible to indoctrination, for they accept every bit of information presented by their educators as authentic. Such learners lack analytical and critical thinking skills. According to the claim, there is a need for cognitive teaching style, and with the input form the GDE, the teaching of Literacy can be improved.. Hopefully,. through the cognitive teaching strategies, learners will be afforded the opportunity to demonstrate analytical and critical thinking skills. As soon as learners are encouraged to construct meaning for themselves, educators need to provide more room for the learners’ actions.. Through. successful implementation of group work, a learner can experience the synergy that leads to new insights and solutions. It is therefore necessary, with the help of the GDE, for teachers to adopt a constructivist style of teaching; they need to make the necessary paradigm shift from the “chalk-and-talk” approach to an authentic problem-solving practice that benefits the learners in its demands that they construct new understanding. The findings of the inquiry confirm that the environment plays a vital role in the education of learners. With a new approach, teachers will provide a learning environment that makes it possible for learners to search for meaning. 4.3. STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES OF THE STUDY. Educators are to be equipped with the necessary skills to provide a learning 34.

(35) environment that makes it possible for learners to search for meaning.. The. standard of education dropped in the eighties and the early nineties in black communities.. The majority of educators were either learners at secondary. schools or students at various colleges or universities. The then continuous disruption in the education process resulted in gaps in the education of teachers. The situation that has arisen because of this calls for a new emphasis on staff development and training. It is therefore a perceived strength of this study that it can empower educators to improve the teaching of Literacy in the Foundation Phase. This study describes the participation of learners in different learning activities. Experience has proved that learning is effective in a situation where learners are actively involved in the learning process. Through group work, which is part of learner involvement, learners experience a synergistic rise in both insight into the task at hand and the solutions to problems posed. The shift to a continuous assessment strategy is one part of the current educational change that contributes to the betterment of Literacy teaching practice, for the frequent assessment keeps the learners alert and active most of the time. The fact that this study was confined to only one school, Ipeleng Primary School in Bekkersdal informal settlement, may be considered a weakness of the study, but there are few schools that teach Literacy in the Foundation Phase. The findings, as a result, may not be generalised to as large a population as one would have liked. Although the study is empirically limited, the findings have great meaning for education. In addition, only four out of ten Foundation Phase educators contributed to the research; and only the learners of grade 1B participated from four grade 1 classes. This also impacts on the generalising of the findings, but it can still be claimed to be representative of the theoretical population from which the sample of participants was drawn. The inquiry concentrated on learners and educators of Ipeleng Primary School, 35.

(36) for time constraints prohibited the collection of the views of other educational structures or data from the stakeholders in the broader community. The findings of this study cannot be generalised to a countrywide scenario, for this setting has its own unique character. Interviews with the Literacy facilitators from District Z, who are Learning Area specialists and could have contributed their opinions regarding Literacy teaching, would undoubtedly have enhanced the findings of this research. 4.4. IMPLICATIONS OF THE INQUIRY. There are two particular implications that arise from the findings of this research. 4.4.1. Drastic changes required in teaching practice. The findings of this study have focussed attention on the need for drastic change in the teaching profession. The findings imply that there is now a far greater emphasis on the role of the teacher as a social worker than before. There are now a great many behavioural and social problems that have to be dealt with before actual teaching can take place. 4.4.2. Availability of the educator. Evidence from the findings suggests that educators always need to be available for the parents and orphans. The importance of the educator in bringing about change implies that a culture of constructivist learning needs to be established. 4.5. CONCLUSION. The findings of this research have revealed that there is a need for improvement in the teaching of Literacy with the help of the GDE. It also appears in the findings that the home situation of learners from informal settlements does not encourage learner activity. According to Julie et al (1993:11), constructivist education embodies a powerful vision of the active and epistemologically empowered learner. Constructivism 36.

(37) encourages the recognition of the learner’s capacity for self-directed learning, but educators should never fall into the trap of laissez-faire belief. These learners may pursue their own learning without responsive adult participation (Fensham et al, 1994:11). 4.6. RECOMMENDATION. Arising from the research study, I wish to recommend that the attention of both government and the department of education be focussed on the development of effective programmes to reduce illiteracy in informal settlements such as this one in Bekkersdal. Such a drive might resemble that employed in educating South Africans during the build-up to the first democratic elections in South Africa in 1994, and its success could result in an illiteracy-free society. It is plain from the interviews conducted that the kinds of dwelling in which learners live do not have the space for them to participate actively in their learning activity. The lack of space means that homework, assignments and projects are not completed, and parents’ illiteracy and lack of experience in a classroom setting means that they are unable to take a part in their children’s Literacy learning. An official campaign to combat illiteracy, as suggested above, would offer parents the opportunity to become literate, and to discover from the teachers how they can assist learners at home. It is important in the above drive to recognise the value of the parents’ wealth of knowledge gained through life experience and to build on their pride in that knowledge to encourage their taking a role in their children’s education. 4.7. POSSIBILITIES FOR FURTHER RESEARCH. I suggest that the same research should be conducted in other schools, particularly those that serve informal settlements. Another suggestion arising from the study is that research should be carried out concerning the design of programmes for teaching Literacy. 37.

(38) LIST OF REFERENCES BODNER, GM (1986) Constructivism: a theory of knowledge. Journal of chemical education, 63(10), pp 873-877. BROCK, GC & BEAZLEY, RP (1995) Using the wealth belief model to explain parents’ participation in adolescents’ at home sexuality education activities. Journal of school health, 65(4), pp 124-128. BROWN, J; COLLINS, A & DUGUID, P (1989) Situated learning and the culture of learning. Educational researcher, 8(1), pp 32-40. DILLEMANS, R (1997) New technologies for learning contribution of ICT to innovation in education. Leuven: Leuven University. EGCEN, PD & KAUCHAK, DP (1998) Strategies for teachers: Teaching content and thinking skills . New York: Prentice Hall. FENSHAM, PJ; GUNSTONE, RF & WHITE, RT (1994) The content of science: A constructivist approach to its teaching and learning. London: Falmer Press. FLICK, U (1999) An introduction to qualitative research. London: Sage. FOREMAN, EA; MINNICK, N & ADDISON STONE, C (1993) Contents for learning. New York: Oxford. GLATTHORN, AA (1997) The principal as curriculum leader: Shaping what is taught and tested. New York: Corwin. GRIESSEL, GAJ; LOUW, GJJ & SWART, CA (1991) Principles of educative teaching. Goodwood: National Book. GUNTER, CFG (1982) Aspects of educational theory. Grahamstown: University.. 38.

(39) HOLDSTOCK, L (1987) Education for a new nation. Johannesburg: University of the Witwatersrand, School of Psychology. HILL, A (2003) Themes in current education discourse that impact on teacher education. Journal of Education 31:93-109, October 2003. HUSSEN, T & POSTLETHWAITE, TN (eds). (1991). The international. encyclopaedia of education: Piaget’s theory of human development. 9(2):4479-4483. London: Pergamon. JULIE, C; ANGELIS, D & DAVIS, Z (1993) Political educational dimensions of mathematics: Curriculum reconstruction for society in transition. Cape Town: Maskew Longman. LAMBERT, L (1996) Who will save our schools? Teachers as constructive leaders. Thousand Oaks: Corwin Press. LE COMPTE, MD & PREISSLE, J (1993) An educational ethnography and qualitative research design. San Diego: Academic. MABEBA, CR. (1999) Inset of educators at Atteridgeville. (Unpublished M Ed mini-dissertation). Johannesburg: Rand Afrikaans University. MATHIBELA, TN (1998) A community initiative to address road accidents in Mamelodi: The case of Kubome Street. (Unpublished M Ed minidissertation). Johannesburg: Rand Afrikaans University. MARLOW, BA & PAGE, ML (1998) Creating and sustaining the constructivist classroom. New York: Corwin Press. MEZIROW, J (1998) On critical reflection: Adult education quartet. A journal of theory and research, 48(3):185-198. MILES, MB & HUBERMAN, AM (1994) Qualitative data analysis. London: Sage. 39.

(40) MKHOMBO, JM (1999) Perception on how informal settlements affect the quality of education in secondary schools. (Unpublished M Ed research essay). Johannesburg: Rand Afrikaans University. MODIBA, ME (1998) The school as a reconstruction agent in Mamelodi. (Unpublished M Ed dissertation). Johannesburg: Rand Afrikaans University. PIAGET, J (1971) The theory of stages in cognitive development. New York: MacGraw-Hill. RICHARDSON, V (1997) Constructivist teacher education: Building new understandings. London: Falmer Press. SPIVEY, NN (1997) The constructivist metaphor. New York: Academic. STRAUSS, A & CORBIN, J (1991) Basics of qualitative research: Grounded theory procedure and techniques. Newbury Park: Sage. THOMPSON, D (1996) The pocket Oxford dictionary of current English. Oxford: Clarendon. VAN RENSBURG, WAJ (2002) Research and writing composition: Study Guide. Johannesburg: Rand Afrikaans University. VON GLASERSFELD, E (1995) A constructivist approach to teaching. In: Constructivist in education. Edited by Steffe, LP & Gale, J. Hove, UK: Lawrence Erlbaum.. 40.

(41) Appendix A TRANSCRIPTION OF AN INTERVIEW WITH GRADE 1 EDUCATORS AT IPELENG PRIMARY SCHOOL Key: Q = Question A = Answer Q:. How can you describe the environment where the learners come from?. A:. Learners come from informal settlements around Bekkersdal. They come from poor families. Their parents are unemployed. They live in shacks. There is no sanitation, no electricity and very poor infrastructure.. Q:. Is the environment the same as the formal surrounding where learning takes place?. A:. The environment is not the same. They experience difficulty with the toilet usage and electricity. Their behaviour is strange.. Q:. What do you mean by strange behaviour?. A:. A strange behaviour in such a way that whenever they want to go to the toilet, they just stand up and go without letting the teacher know or asking permission to leave the class.. Q:. Do you mean that the domestic background has a bearing on learners?. A:. The way the child is brought up at home will have a bearing on the way he/she views and interacts with teachers. The way he responds or respects his parents is representative of home in school. The way the child behaves at school mirrors the home setting.. Q:. Do the environmental conditions at (Ipeleng Primary School) Bekkersdal informal settlement have an effect on education?. A:. Yes, it has.. 41.

(42) Q:. Is it positive or negative?. A:. Negative. The grade 1 class is overcrowded. Children have no chance to study at home. The settlement, which they come from, is not conducive for education.. Q:. Can you elaborate more on the negative effect in homes and school not being a conducive place for learning?. A:. They live in tiny shacks where more than eight people are accommodated, i.e. brothers, sisters, parents, cousins and other relatives. They don’t have proper equipment or furniture; as a result it is difficult for them to do their homework. The vast majority of these parents are unemployed and have no resources to enhance their children’s education at home.. Q:. What about the effect at school?. A:. The school is under-resourced. The school lacks media and learning facilities are not enough. Classes in grade 1 are overcrowded and that makes learning very difficult in the sense that not all learners get involved in individual work. The teachers encounters [sic] difficulty in involving such pupils in individual work.. Q:. Were these learners exposed to pre-school education?. A:. The learners were not exposed to pre-school education or early development centres. Most of the parents are immigrants. We have learners who are from Maputo, Lesotho and Swaziland. They don’t have money to take their children to pre-school, as they are unemployed.. Q:. How do you tackle the teaching of literacy since you have learners who were not exposed to pre-school education. A:. We engage them into readiness programmes in literacy for the first ten weeks of the first term. Since we are having multilingual classes in our grade 1 we use the code Switching Method.. Q:. What is the code Switching method? 42.

(43) A:. It is the method whereby we teach these learners in LLC1, that is the language of teaching and learning, and then explain in different mother tongue. You can also ask in Xhosa the child to explain the word to other Xhosa-speaking learners in Xhosa from English.. Q:. Are the learners coping?. A:. Some are coping and some are experiencing difficulty.. Q:. How do you apply OBE in the teaching of Literacy?. A:. OBE is about teaching learners in their groups. We group them in groups of which is a problem since we are overcrowded. We work at the learners’ pace and level of performance. All activities are learner-centred and we facilitate. Sometimes is difficult we do squeeze in the old method of teaching. Since OBE has some advantage and disadvantage.. Q:. How is the Department improving the teaching of Literacy?. A:. The Gauteng Department of Education is improving in teaching of Literacy by sending us to Literacy workshops and various Literacy programmes. During June holidays we underwent the workshop in Revised National Curriculum Statement. The workshop was done to replace some failures experienced from outcomes-based education for the betterment of curriculum 2005. From the RNCS so many interesting things in teaching of Literacy whereby you can involve learners in various ways to retain knowledge.. Q:. Do you think learners involved play a major role in your class?. A:. If the children become involved they’ll discover knowledge for themselves. If a learner discover knowledge for themselves, it is not easy to be forgotten. It belongs to them and it stays forever.. Q:. You said earlier on you involve learners in your lesson. How do you involve the learners during your lesson? We invite learners to participate. Give them a topic to discuss so that they 43.