A conceptual analysis of teacher education in South Africa in relation to the norms and standards for educators
Adams, Noel David
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ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Educators at schools are expected to implement education policy changes promulgated through policy frameworks by the Department of Education in South Africa. However, whether these teachers are equipped to implement education policy or whether they have interacted sufficiently with policy issues remains a contentious issue. My contention is that pre-service and in-service teachers are expected to perform certain roles and demonstrate certain competences, as required or implied by changing education policy frameworks, like the Norms and Standards for Educators (Department of Education, 2000), but might not necessarily be equipped to do so. This dissertation utilised conceptual analysis and a literature review, as research methods, to explore constitutive meanings of the concept 'education policy' in relation to teacher education transformation in post-apartheid South Africa, with reference to the Norms and Standards for Educators (Department of Education, 2000). Constitutive meanings (Fay, 1975) of post-apartheid teacher education refer to all those shared assumptions, definitions, and conceptions, which structure teacher education transformation and post-apartheid teacher education in certain definite ways. Without these constitutive meanings, according to Fay (1975: 76), social practices, like teacher education, could not exist. By revealing these constitutive meanings, in terms of the interpretive paradigm (Fay, 1975: 78), I have given a possible explanation of post-apartheid teacher education, by articulating the conceptual scheme that frames post-apartheid teacher education. These constitutive meanings, which were extracted from a literature review, were explored in relation to the main question of this dissertation: Can the new teacher education policy framework, as set out in the Norms and Standards for Educators of 2000, improve teaching and learning in South African schools? I argue that the latter process will not materialise because of question marks over the transformative potential of the Norms and Standards for Educators (Department of Education, 2000). The mentioned policy framework may be an inappropriate framework to structure and guide the transformation of existing teacher education practices because of certain conceptual gaps. These conceptual gaps are stumbling blocks to transform existing teacher education practice and improve teaching and learning in our schools in the post-apartheid era. I argue that these gaps could be bridged if the Norms and Standards for Educators are reconceptualised along the lines of Benhabib's (1994) deliberative democratic model. Deliberation is necessary because policy alone cannot lead to the transformation of post-apartheid teacher education. Deliberation is also necessary because of the limitations on the state's power to enforce its will through promulgated policy. More engagement, via deliberation, is needed between the government, educational leaders, policy-makers and the other policy actors, like teachers, bureaucrats and teacher education institutions. The arguments of Burbules (1997) and Biesta (2004) seem to substantiate my claim that education policy, alone, cannot lead to the improvement of teaching and learning in our schools. Burbules (1997) posits that teaching is a complex human endeavour that is characterised by predicaments or dilemmas, which cannot be permanently solved. I argue against the integration of the seven roles, as advocated by the Norms and Standards for Educators, because of certain dilemmas. We need the tragic perspective on teaching, of Burbules (1997), to approach teaching differently. Biesta (2004) also urges us to approach teaching differently, by advocating a new language for education.AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Daar word van Suid-Afrikaanse opvoeders by skole verwag om opvoedingsbeleid veranderinge, wat via beleidsraamwerke gepromulgeer is deur die Departement van Onderwys, te implementeer. Wat egter 'n kontensieuse kwessie bly is of hierdie opvoeders toegerus is om opvoedingsbeleid te implementeer en of hulle genoegsaam omgegegaan het met beleidskwessies. My argument is dat daar van voor-diens- en indiens opvoeders verwag word om sekere rolle te speel en sekere kompetensies of bekwaamhede te demonstreer, soos vereis of geimpliseer deur veranderende opvoedingsbeleid raamwerke, soos die Norme en Standaarde vir Opvoeders (Departement van Onderwys, 2000), maar dat hulle nie noodwendig toegerus is om dit te doen nie. Hierdie proefskrif utiliseer konseptuele analise en 'n literatuur oorsig, as navorsingsmetodes, om konstituerende betekenisse van die konsep 'opvoedingsbeleid', in verhouding tot onderwyseropvoeding transformasie in postapartheid Suid-Afrika, met verwysing na die Norme en Standaarde vir Opvoeders (Departement van Onderwys, 2000), te eksploreer. Konstituerende betekenisse (Fay, 1975) van post-apartheid onderwyseropvoeding verwys na al daardie gedeelde aannames, definisies, en konsepsies, wat onderwyseropvoeding transformasie en post-apartheid onderwyseropvoeding op sekere definitiewe maniere struktureer. Sosiale praktyke soos onderwyseropvoeding kan volgens Fay (1975: 76) nie sonder hierdie konstituerende betekenisse bestaan nie. Ek het hopelik, deur die ontbloting van hierdie konstituerende betekenisse, in terme van die interpretatiewe navorsingsparadigma (Fay, 1975: 78), 'n verduideliking gegee van post-apartheid onderwyseropvoeding, deur my artikulasie van die konseptuele skema wat die realiteit van onderwyseropvoeding op sekere maniere definieer. Hierdie konstituerende betekenisse, wat onttrek is van 'n literatuur oorsig, was geeksploreer in verhouding tot die hoof vraag van hierdie proefskrif: Kan die nuwe onderwyseropvoeding beleidsraamwerk, soos uitgespel in die Norme en Standaarde vir Opvoeders van 2000, onderrig en leer in Suid-Afrikaanse skole verbeter?
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