Teachers’ experiences of implementing the Further Education and Training (FET) Science Curriculum

Koopman, Oscar (2013-03)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2013.

Bibliography

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This study investigated a single research question, that is: How do teachers experience the implementation of the Further Education and Training (FET) National Curriculum Statement (NCS) for Physical Science? The focus of the study was on searching the inner consciousness of Physical Science teachers as they engaged with the teaching of the subject on a daily basis. It is in the inner consciousness where one finds the truth about people’s perceptions, beliefs, emotions, challenges and convictions about/towards phenomena that the study sought to determine. In so doing, this study searched for phenomenological truth about the daily realities Physical Science teachers are faced with, as they implement the NCS. Phenomenological truth is floatable, precarious in nature, and subject to an individual’s perception of truth. It is important to note that phenomenological truth makes no reference to absolute truth. At the time this study was conducted the NCS was the only policy document with legal status for schools in South Africa. As a result the NCS influences and directs the pedagogical practices of teachers. This is because the NCS has a specific expectation of Physical Science teachers with regards to their understanding of the content, the delivery of the content, the learning environment, and professionalism. Through searching the consciousness of teachers, they revealed how they experienced what they do in the Physical Science classroom. In other words, how they experience what, how, when and who they teach. Probing into the consciousness of teachers and how they experience the implementation of the NCS provides valuable insight into the quality of curriculum delivery. This study did not only focus on the implementation of the NCS, but also examined why it might be difficult for teachers to change their practices. Phenomenology is both a theory and a method. The study was guided by the ideas of Edmund Husserl - who is regarded by many phenomenologists as the father of phenomenology, Martin Heidegger, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and many other phenomenologists. Husserl (cited in Derrida, 1967) believed that we should begin any explanation with experience, which is a scientific description that does not presuppose any significance of the existence of the metaphysical world. By delving into the complexities of experience one can locate the flowing life of an individual’s consciousness as it occurs. Husserl posited the belief returning to the things themselves (cited in, Derrida, 1967; Spanos, 1976; Groenewald, 2004) to describe the purity of experience as data. In this study I sampled three teachers and employed a phenomenological methodological framework to capture their lived experiences. I used one-on-one semi-structured face-to-face interviews to construct the data. In addition, field notes were used to turn the direct experiences and observations of the participants into vivid descriptions. In phenomenology researchers use field notes to make the voice of people heard in the text. I drew on Husserl, Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty’s philosophical pathways that a person must be understood from his position within a specific time and place to present the findings. The major finding in this study showed that the teachers’ consciousness, with respect to Physical Science teaching was negatively influenced by the legacy of apartheid-education. This negative consciousness through which they framed their thoughts and filtered their ideas became the collective mindset through which they personified their teaching. The study revealed that the delivery of the NCS (by the teachers) was mostly axiomatised by old habits and images in their thoughts engrained in their memory under apartheid education. The findings also showed that their (teachers’) consciousness with regards to the NCS unconsciously oscillated between the present and the past and that they continuously and unconsciously bring the past (old ideas and beliefs) into the present. The teachers constantly have to struggle against the phenomenological self or attitude and ceaselessly suppose and follow thoughts of pre-comprehension or preconception.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die doelwit van hierdie studie was om die volgende navorsingvraag te beantwoord: Hoe ervaar onderwysers die implementering van die Verdere Onderwys en Opleiding (VOO) Nasionale Kurrikulum Verklaring (NKV) vir Fisiese Wetenskap? Die hoofdoel was om meer insig te verkry oor wat binne onderwysers se psige plaasvind soos hulle op ‘n daaglikse basis hul uitleef in die Fisiese Wetenskapsklaskamer binne die raamwerk van die NKV. Dit is binne die psige waar hul persepsies, diepgewortelde waardes, emosies, en uitdagings rondom die NKV rus. Om hierdie rede is die studie geïntresseerd om die fenomenologiese waarheid van die alledaagse realiteite waarmee hulle aanhoudend gekonfronteer word, te myn. Fenominologiese waarheid is vloeibaar en verskil van persoon tot persoon en hou geen verwysing met absolute waarheid nie. Toe hierdie studie plaasgevind het, was die VOO NKV die enigste wettige beleidsdokument vir die deelnemers. Die onderwysers was dus verplig om die voorgeskrewe beginsels soos in die NKV saamgevat toe te pas in die voorbereiding en aanbieding van hul lesse. Die NKV beskryf in diepte die inhoud vir elke graad (10-12), hoe die inhoud aangebied moet word, die klaskamer atmosfeer, asook die professionalitiet van die opvoeders. Al die antwoorde soos saamgevat in laasgenoemde, lê bine die psige van die onderwysers. Die ondersoek van die psige van die onderwysers lei tot ‘n begrip van hoe, wat en waarom Fisiese Wetenskaps-onderswysers doen wat hulle doen. Alhoewel die fokus van hierdie studie op die implementering van die NKV is, dra dit ook by tot groeiende kennis aangaande hoekom onderwysers dit moeilik vind om hulle praktyke te verander wanneer dit kom by die hernuwing van ‘n kurrikulum. Fenomenologie is beide ‘n navorsingsmetode en ‘n teorie. Die literatuuroorsig van hierdie studie is geinspireer deur die idees van Edmund Husserl, wat bestempel word as die vader van fenomenolgie, asook Martin Heidegger, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, en veskeie ander fenomenoloë. Derrida (1967) is oortuig daarvan dat enige verduideliking akkuraat beskryf kan word indien geleefde ervaring in ag geneem word. Geleefde ervaring spreek direk tot die onderliggende psige van ‘n individu, en deur die psige te ondersoek, is dit moontlik om ‘n individu se oortuigings ten opsigte van sy/haar geloof, persepsies en uitdagings, asook hoe die individu reageer op hierdie aspekte te verstaan. Husserl gebruik die uitdrukking ‘returning to the things themselves’ wanneer hy verwys na die belangrikheid en oorspronlikheid van ervaring (vermeld in, Derrida, 1967; Spanos, 1976; Groenewald, 2004). Om hierdie rede is ‘n fenomenologiese metode gevolg om die lewenservaringe van drie swart onderwysers vas te vang. Hierdie fenomenologiese vertolkende ondersoek word deur veelvoudigemetodes van inligtingsinsameling gekenmerk. Inligting in hierdie studie oor die deelnemers se ervaringe is vekry deur middel van individuele onderhoude, en die ontleding van die inhoud daarvan. Addisionele inligting is verkry deur veldnotas. Die doelwit van die veldnotas was om die deelnemers se direkte ervaringe en waarnemings in besonderhede te beskryf. Die ontledingsbenadering van elke deelnemer is gedoen binne die raamwerk van Husserl, Heidegger en Merleau-Ponty wat gegrond is op teorieë wat die belangrikheid van plek en tyd uitbeeld. Die resultate van hierdie studie het getoon dat die onderliggende psige van elke deelnemer deur die nalatenskap van apartheid negatief beïnvloed is. Hierdie negatiewe denkpatrone waardeur die onderwysers se idees formuleer vorm die kollektiewe ingesteldheid waardeur hulle hul onderrigswêreld skep. Verder het die studie onthul dat hul aanbieding van die NKV meestal gedryf word deur ou gewoontes wat binne hul denke gekristalliseer het. Hulle vind dit dus moeilik om deur hierdie ou gewoontes te breek. Hul denke wissel gedurig tussen die verlede en die hede en roep die verlede voortdurend binne die hede. Alhoewel die bevindinge van hierdie studie gekoppel is aan plek en tyd is daar ‘n konstante struweling tussen die fenomenologiese self en hul ou gesette denke.

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