Critical student agency in educational practice: a South African perspective

Isaacs, Tracey (2016-12)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2016

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT : Violating students’ inalienable and unassailable rights to human dignity could be considered a concrete manifestation of how inequality is perpetuated within a society. By infringing upon human dignity, the potential to tolerate poverty and unemployment is unleashed, creating possibilities to transgress language and religious rights, and accommodate inequality. In this potentially under-served and undermining context, it becomes apparent to ask the question: How could students utilise critical agency to mitigate the effects of capitalist hegemony and ideology in order to bring about a measure of equality in a South Africa classroom, community and society? This research question highlights the status of a sampled group of disadvantaged and marginal students in the schooling system, as they could be regarded as the most vulnerable and threatened participants in the schooling experience, whose human rights are brought into question every time they encounter the schooling situation. Since ruling class hegemony is so pervasive and intrusive in the lives of economically, culturally and linguistically marginal students, they are usually measured against the markers of values, beliefs, norms and standards that are alien to their lived realities and experiences. Often poverty sets the poor apart from their more affluent peers in society, as the poor do not display the level of success envisioned by curriculum planners and administrators. The omnipresence of capitalist or ruling class hegemony makes it almost insurmountable to overcome poverty and inequality. Or does it? The deliberate choice of a philosophical research methodology in this study is designed to gradually clarify meanings, and make values manifest, even while it seeks to identify ethics. As such the study report was mapped out through an interpretivist research approach. Operationally, the data was sourced from written material and verbally expressed ideas that highlight education policy, teacher education and concrete classroom experience. This study focussed firstly, on an investigation of the indicators of critical agency in students from under-resourced school environments within the dominant research literature and secondly, on discovering whether the activation of critical agency can expose students towards becoming individuals and critical thinkers who strive for personal freedom and equality as they are confronted with the stark reality of their lived experiences (specifically the causes and effects of their lives under capital and the possibilities for change).

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING : Dit is ’n ernstige aantyging om te beweer dat ons, deur ongelykheid in die samelewing voort te sit, ons studente se regte skend, veral die onvervreembare en onweerlegbare reg op menswaardigheid. Deur menswaardigheid te skend, ontketen ons die potensiaal om armoede en werkloosheid te verdra, word moontlikhede geskep om taal- en godsdienstige regte te oortree, en gee ons plek aan ongelykheid. Teen hierdie agtergrond word dit duidelik dat ons die volgende vraag moet stel: Hoe sou studente kritiese agentskap kon gebruik om die uitwerking van kapitalistiese hegemonie en ideologie te temper om sodoende ’n mate van gelykheid in ’n Suid-Afrikaanse klaskamer, gemeenskap en samelewing teweeg te bring? Hierdie navorsingsvraag het gehelp om die aandag op die haglike toestand van minderbevoorregte en marginale studente in die skoolstelsel te vestig omdat hulle die kwetsbaarste en mees bedreigde deelnemers in die onderwyservaring is, wie se menseregte bevraagteken word elke keer wanneer hulle aan die onderwyssituasie blootgestel word. Armoede sonder die armes af van hulle ryker eweknieë in die samelewing aangesien armes nie die vlak van sukses toon wat deur kurrikulumbeplanners en -administrateurs verwag word nie. Armoede met die uitsluiting van kapitalistiese hegemonie sou oorkombaar wees. Aangesien die hegemonie van die heersende klas so deurdringend en indringend in die lewens van ekonomies, kultureel en linguisties marginale studente is, word hulle met die merkers van waardes, oortuigings, norme en standaarde wat aan hulle geleefde realiteite en ervarings vreemd is, gemeet. Die alomteenwoordigheid van die hegemonie van die kapitalistiese of heersende klas maak dit feitlik onmoontlik om armoede en ongelykheid te oorkom. Of dalk nie? Hierdie studie het op ’n ondersoek na die aanwysers van kritiese agentskap by studente gekonsentreer en op pogings om vas te stel of kritiese aanwysers die vermoë het om die karakter van studente bekend te maak namate hulle individue en kritiese denkers word wat na persoonlike vryheid en gelykheid streef algaande hulle met die naakte werklikheid van hulle geleefde ervarings gekonfronteer word (in die besonder die oorsake en gevolge van hulle lewens onder kapitalisme en die moontlikhede vir verandering)

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/100229
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