- ItemReflecting on critical citizenship in critical times(AFRICAN SUN MeDIA, 2016) Costandius, ElmarieAfter the first democratic elections in South Africa 22 years ago, people were in general optimistic and could imagine a better future for all. This hope slowly faded over time for many young people. Only 15% of undergraduate students and 21% of master’s students in South Africa at higher education institutions complete their studies (Mtshali 2013). According to Ramphele (in John, 2013), students are accepted into universities, but the adjustment and demands of higher education are unattainable for most students because of differences in primary and secondary school educational standards. This is one of the most fundamental issues with which higher education in South Africa is dealing. The year 2015 was a time of turmoil with the student uprisings at universities in South Africa. The previous time that so many learners protested was 1976 in Soweto to demand accessible education.
- ItemHenry Giroux on critical pedagogy and engaged curricula(AFRICAN SUN MeDIA, 2015) Costandius, Elmarie; Bitzer, EliINTRODUCTION: In Neoliberalism’s war on higher education (2014), Henry Giroux refers to neoliberalism as a central organising idea in shaping his critical view of higher education. At the time of its writing, Giroux was Global TV Network Chair in Communications and Professor of English and Cultural Studies at McMaster University, Canada. He portrays neoliberalism as a mode of governance that produces identities, subjects and ways of life driven by a survival of the fittest. This ethic is grounded in the idea of the free, possessive individual and committed to the right of ruling groups and institutions to accrue wealth removed from matters of societal ethics and social costs. Also recently, another of his books, Education and the crisis of public values (2012), questioned the North American education system and the attack on the public school sector. In this work his observations are articulate, to the point and in many circles regarded as accurate. In addition to his vast research and publishing contributions, Giroux has an established international network of collaborators who comment on educational and social issues.
- ItemCurriculum challenges in higher education(AFRICAN SUN MeDIA, 2015) Costandius, Elmarie; Bitzer, EliINTRODUCTION: A decade ago and 11 years after the birth of a new democratic political dispensation in South Africa, an important contribution to inquiry into higher education curricula saw the light. But, in writing their well-commended book Engaging the curriculum in higher education, Ron Barnett and Kelley Coate (2005) struggled with a problem that they articulated through a number of bothering questions (2005:161‑162), for instance: Should we, in higher education, refer to “the” curriculum or “a” curriculum? Is the concept of curriculum more of an adjective than a noun – meaning that a curriculum represents intentions and hopes rather than an entity? Is curriculum necessarily singular or can one talk about a generic curriculum as a kind of Platonic ideal in higher education? The point made by Barnett and Coate is that if the language of curriculum inquiry is problematic, even more serious are the difficulties in involving “ordinary” academics and students in curriculum matters and their discourse. This is far from saying that academics and students fail to engage with curriculum issues, but it does point to the fact that curriculum constituents may not always know how their direct involvement shapes curricula and, moreover, that they do not necessarily use the “right” or applicable curriculum language. What is therefore needed, as we are reminded by authors such as Barnett and Coate, is strong curriculum leadership at different levels in higher education institutions – leadership that encapsulates imagining a culture of new and renewed curricula that reach out to future demands, that develop conversational spaces and promote the involvement of academics and students. What may also be needed is curricula that create new energies, which is nothing short of involving universities and other higher education institutions in their own core business, namely to educate for an unknown future.
- ItemAn example of critical citizenship education in an arts curriculum(AFRICAN SUN MeDIA, 2015) Costandius, Elmarie; Bitzer, EliINTRODUCTION: If one considers the importance of global and local change and transformation for constructing just, sustainable and peaceful societies globally, initiatives such as the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (Kindzeka 2014) and The Earth Charter Initiative (2012) feature prominently. As discussed earlier, the need for such kind of transformation in thought and action in South Africa as an evolving democracy is vital, as underlined by several policy initiatives, both in higher education institutions and at a national level (DHET 2014; DoE 1997; NPC 2011). At Stellenbosch University (SU), where we both work as academics, the HOPE Project (see Botman 2011 for details on this initiative) was launched in 2008. Its aim was and still is to find concrete ways to reflect on historical influences on the current South African society and to address the need for change towards a higher education that significantly contributes to society. To correspond with this stated aim, a module called “Critical Citizenship” was introduced for first- to third‑year Visual Communication Design students at the Department of Visual Arts at SU. The case study in critical citizenship that we elaborate on involves the Critical Citizenship module in particular. The case study had as its aim to explore the perceptions and attitudes of students, a group of learners from a township school and two art lecturers who participated in the Critical Citizenship module regarding personal transformation through teaching and learning in the module. As a framework for the study, the importance of considering the emotional dimensions of learning (also see Chapters 3 and 4) was emphasised, thereby implying that students should be understood and treated as thinking, feeling and acting persons.
- ItemEngaging curricula through critical citizenship education : a student learning perspective(AFRICAN SUN MeDIA, 2015) Costandius, Elmarie; Bitzer, EliINTRODUCTION: In the previous chapters we have shown that numerous curriculum challenges remain in higher education – not only in South Africa, but worldwide. One such challenge is to provide a critical citizenship perspective to curricula that may contribute to educate for more democratic and sustainable environments. We have also drawn on Giroux’s views on critical pedagogy and engaged curricula as a potentially useful lens to relate critical citizenship to critical pedagogy. Lastly, we have pointed out that in South Africa, although important higher education policy initiatives had materialised after 1994, much work remains to promote critical citizenship in higher education curricula. At least four elements of learning seem to inform critical citizenship education in curricula, namely psychosocial, transformational, socio-political and multicultural learning. One may also refer here to theories of learning, but what we do realise, however, is that the forces interacting and wrestling for power in constructing curricula that engage students on the one hand, but also keep such curricula vibrant on the other hand, are numerous, complex and ever-shifting. This we want to allude to in the sections that follow.