By: Zipho Meyiwa
If we continue to point out the loop holes in our education system, it is rare that we will ever move forward. The government and other stakeholders in education have created programmes, workshops and projects that work with different schools and communities to help raise leaners that are knowledge seekers and not nest fed hens. These initiatives are all over the country and some focus on rectifying the disparities between township and suburban schools. Teachers need to step up!
(This is not a Shakespearian play)
On the bus from Campus to Bavianspoort Correctional services
As I stepped out the bus, I felt like super woman ready to change the learners lives, in my case, the prisoners lives one by one, totally oblivious to the fact that these are convicted criminals. I mean teaching is supposed to be a calling, it’s supposed to be about the leaner and how they should be allowed to express themselves through learning so that they become better individuals, better equipped and knowledge seekers. That’s what I had in mind when I signed up for this degree. I was determined to be the super teacher … no, not like the one I had in Grade 10, no she was too hyper for me. In fact, I felt like I was in kindergarten all over again. I wanted to be the change in the world, to inspire leaners, to motivate and to equip and be that crazy parent they never had.
The reality is that not every teacher should be in the profession. Remember that horrible teacher who taught you? Yes that one … she/he is not a real teacher. Not every teacher in South Africa has the desire or ability to teach, educate, guide and discipline with love. Many teacher in the country are not well-trained, some are not open or willing to accept change. The HSRC conducted a national survey of 21 358 educators in more than 1 714 randomly selected schools; 97% of educators agreed to participate. This survey revealed that 55% of educators have considered leaving the education. Factors such as salary, teaching resources, poor facilities and inadequate support from the government and other structures are the reasons driving our teachers away. With all that said, teachers of today lack creativity. They stick to one method and teach in the same monotonous way that they were taught in, making the learning process nothing but an awful babysitting ritual of I (teacher), talk and you (leaner), listen.
Angry South Africans because of the textbook saga in Limpopo.
Just as any other problem, issue, concern or scandal, the Limpopo textbook saga flooded the newspapers for weeks. Most of the articles are comprised of: who did what, who gave who, tender this tender that, the kids are struggling and failing because of this. I do not intend in turning this into a matter of ridicule, but yes the students in Limpopo did suffer because of this and our education department has been stained. The image of Lady Macbeth hallucinating and seeing blood in her hands best describes this type of stain.
Limpopo saga … Not a Bomb shell in the case of competent, well trained teachers.
As a prospective teacher, I have learned that you need not have a textbook to teach. The textbook is a guide for the teacher and if it is not available then more effort needs to be put in devising new ways of teaching and this is every teacher’s responsibly. The education in our country is not the best but the people who have killed it are the mediators of education the supposed leaders and managers of education; the teachers. Teaching is not about reading from a textbook, if it was then I have been wasting my time in University because I could read a textbook in grade five, I could have easily become a teacher then. Teaching is about being knowledgeable; it’s about using a soccer ball and torch to explain why it’s daytime in South Africa and evening in London. It’s about using everything and every opportunity to add to the leaners knowledge base. We are currently living in a technologized world whereby information is accessible and programmes are available but teachers fail to use and access these and give excuses. Today’s students are the first generation to grow up with this new technology; therefore, as teachers, we must be relevant in both theory and practise.
Teaching and learning are not separate entities or separate from society. The same way Shakespeare’s or any other writers’ plays link through acts and scenes is the same way education filters and affects our society. As teachers and prospective teachers we must understand that the subjects we teach are mere tools that help us to mould and teach life. A term I recently learnt is loco parentis (to act in the place of the parent) and this is a right that has been given to all educators. Meaning your duty is to discipline, punish, dress, counsel, motivate, preach, teach, appreciate, mentor, applaud and add value to their lives. The Next step in South African Education is not just to better service delivery, reshape the current curriculum or build more schools but to train and encourage more young people to enter into this career with love and patience as its rewards are ever so visible.
A good teacher finds a lesson in everything.
R. Joubert. 2008. Learner Discipline in Schools. Centre for Educational Law and Policy. University of Pretoria.
C Van de Walt, R Evans, W. R Kilfoil. Learn2Teach: English Language teaching in a multilingual context. Van schaik. Pretoria.