Teaching for a Practical Change: Rethinking preparation of Teachers

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Geospatial Technology in Teacher Education In Practice

Traditionally, the quality of a teacher preparation program has been measured in large part by the quality of its course offerings.

The Challenge of Change in (Teacher) Education

The assumption has been that teachers needed to develop their knowledge of subject content and pedagogy in order to be effective. Yet the evidence suggests that knowledge of academic content and pedagogical theory are necessary but not sufficient elements for producing effective teachers.

To be effective, teachers must master essential skills—such as classroom management, lesson delivery, real-time data analysis, and relationship building. Traditional teacher education programs often fall short in developing these skills because so much of their training is delivered through the traditional university methods of lectures, readings, writing assignments, and exams. These methods are good at teaching skills like knowledge acquisition, critical thinking, reading comprehension, and writing, but they are not effective for teaching the moves of a good teacher.

Although many of the courses currently offered at traditional schools of education require students to discuss and reflect on important teaching skills, such exercises are not sufficient for developing skill mastery. Instead, the best methods for developing the skills of effective teaching involve putting prospective teachers through numerous cycles of real-world type practice followed by constructive feedback. To this end, schools of education have long included student teaching as an important skill-building component of their programs. The ineffectiveness and attrition among early career teachers, however, show that most student teaching experiences are not sufficient for honing the skills that teachers require.

Racism in the United States has been the focus in several high-profile incidents of violence against people of color. As students explore issues like the Trayvon Martin case or witness racism in their own lives, they need to be able to bring up these issues in class discussions. They also need to be able to recognize ways racism masquerades as normal treatment and question this treatment. While young people are fairly adept at recognizing overt bullying in the form of assault, name-calling and online harassment, they might not be aware of the other ways that bullying can manifest. Students should be taught about the harm done by smaller behaviors that are often normalized as a part of the adolescent experience.

Examples include groups of girls who exclude or mistreat one member, boys who prove their masculinity by dominating and controlling others, or anyone who bullies a peer due to their declared or perceived gender or sexuality. Students should also learn they have a right to healthy romantic relationships.

To do so, they must understand issues of consent and be able to tell the difference between positive dating behavior and the use of coercion, humiliation or other forms of abuse. Once students are able to recognize and discuss social injustice, teachers can help them act upon the issues they see.

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Teachers can use service learning projects to connect their classroom to the surrounding community. Through long- and short-term projects, students can meet specific needs by participating in book and food drives, gardening or park care, or mentoring at-risk students. From the teacher, it requires a willingness to give up the monopoly on knowledge and, rather, to assume the role of a facilitator of classroom discussion. This is in line with Odora Hopper's suggestion that integration should be critical engagement that also addresses power imbalances between epistemologies.

Naturally, the level of discussion and reflection will vary according to the age of the learners, but our experience showed that, already, Grade 6 learners could discuss the advantages and disadvantages of indigenous and Western sun protection practices, which might be a start of such critical engagement. My coresearchers chose to focus on the first of the above strategies. Except in one case where Grade 7 learners had not done their homework, arguing they had no one at home to inquire with, this strategy worked well with all involved age groups.

For example, Farasten sent his Grade 5 learners to "find out from home the various uses of soils" and was impressed by the breadth of examples they reported in class: "I was so surprised when they were presenting, really, you could write a good thesis on that! Similarly, Noluthando's Grade 10 learners, who had been asked to inquire about water purification practices, presented a large variety of suggestions. This strategy ensures the integration of IK of all cultural groupings present in the classroom, which links to the aims of building a bridge between school science and home knowledge and making science teaching relevant to learners' daily lives.

It does not, however, include examples from cultures that are not present, which is what the curriculum suggests. Here again, the question is with what aim IK should be included and to choose a strategy accordingly. Not all of the learners' examples were IK. When asked about different ways of protecting against the sun, Sipho's students talked about sunscreen as well applying a paste mixed from water and clay soil to the skin. We did not regard this as problematic given that the aim was not to integrate pure IK, but to be inclusive of all knowledges the learners brought to class.

In Sipho's case, he put the epistemologically different sun protection practices in context for his learners.

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Abongile's interest in indigenous knowledges had motivated her to participate in our study. However, as a faithful Born-Again Christian, she was concerned about the common perception of IK being "somehow connected to the spiritual site of life" and feared that persons engaging with IK might be regarded as "less of a Christian" Workshop 4, December 8, Indeed, some South African churches discourage the use of indigenous knowledges and practices, whereas others embrace them as a part of culture.

Scholars take different standpoints regarding the role of spirituality in Southern African IK.

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Others such as Breidlid or Msimanga and Shiza regard spirituality as a central aspect of IK. According to Breidlid , spirituality differentiates IK from Western epistemology, the latter based on the Cartesian divide that separates spirituality and knowledge. Given these different standpoints, here more than for the other challenges, an individual rather than a general solution was viable.

For my other four coresearchers, all of whom are avowed Christians, using IK did not conflict with their religion. Margaret elaborated: "I feel that God has given us the freedom to use everything he has created and has put on earth for us. There is only a misunderstanding when we undermine Him as our creator" Workshop 6, August 26, She said the problem was not utilising herbs for healing purposes, but that the same plants could be misused for witchcraft; a temptation that, as Farasten pointed out, would affect "people with a weak faith, " but not "the mature Christian" Workshop 13, October 28, With three of my coresearchers being Seventh-day Adventists, we consulted with an Adventist pastor.

He did not see anything wrong with the use of herbs either, but found it decisive to whom the healing process was attributed: whether to the ancestors or to God who speaks through the herbs personal communication, August Abongile explained that her coresearchers' and the pastor's clarifications dispelled her concerns. Building on our learnings from the reflection phase of the study, we planned the integration of indigenous and Western knowledges in the following steps:.

Choosing a Suitable Curriculum Unit. As elaborated above, we required a strategy that allowed the integration of IK without losing teaching time or departing from the curriculum. Pressure on my coresearchers was even higher because the school year had proceeded to the final term, which is dominated by the annual examinations starting around a month into the term.

We thus decided that the lessons had to be held during the first two weeks of the term. This narrowed down the choice of curriculum topics for the integration of IK considerably.

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With the exception of the Grade 7 curriculum, none of the Grades science curricula contains IK in Term 4. Nevertheless, all five coresearchers identified suitable topics for five different grades without difficulty. She thought this topic invited the integration of IK because learners have to study the ecology of rivers and learn about water purification.

Apart from the mentioned exception of Grade 7, the chosen curriculum topics did not include IK in the set syllabus, which left the decision of which IK to integrate to us. As my coresearchers did not necessarily have IK on the chosen topic, our approach was to decide what the integrated IK should be about rather than listing specific knowledge.

For example, in her lesson plan, Noluthando noted that she would integrate IK on water purification but did not determine specific indigenous water purification methods.

This strategy gave learners the chance to contribute with all practices they gathered from their families rather than limiting their participation, while it enabled Noluthando to integrate IK without having to be aware of all indigenous water purification methods. She just needed to assume that IK about water purification existed. I argued above for the importance of being clear about one's motivation to integrate IK to avoid turning it into a technical exercise.

Thus, in this step of planning, the teachers reflected on what they wished the learners to take away from the lessons. In other words, we answered the why-question for each respective curriculum unit and did so by choosing from the list of reasons we had generated earlier see above. Moreover, he wished to broaden his learners' perspectives by discussing both indigenous and Western sun protection measures.

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He said integrating knowledges would give learners "a wide knowledge. They must not only concentrate on the Western knowledge, they can also know: oh, in the years before, people were using these practices. Even today, they can choose which way to go" Workshop 11, September 30, Finally, Sipho thought that including indigenous practices from learner's everyday lives would build a bridge between home knowledge and classroom science and make his teaching more relevant for his learners.


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Choosing Suitable Teaching and Learning Methods. Shava, O'Donoghue, and Ngcoza suggested a number of strategies for the teaching and learning of indigenous knowledges and kindly permitted our team to pilot them. The methods take into account that IK "is about holistic, context-based, integrated people-environment interrelationships" and can, therefore, best be acquired in "practice-oriented" activities p. Observations: Many indigenous practices are embedded in everyday practices and can be learned through observation or,. Investigations: About indigenous practices with the learners' communities.

Deliberations: Classroom discussions on particular aspects of IK can reveal the wealth of IK and be a process of "learning from each other" p. Storytelling: As a traditional way of passing on IK can also be practised in the classroom. These teaching methods harmonised with the above list of IK integration strategies we had compiled, especially, as Shava et al. My coresearchers mostly chose investigations in combination with classroom discussions about the inquired knowledge.

Examples of Lessons or Curriculum Units.

Teaching for a Practical Change: Rethinking preparation of Teachers Teaching for a Practical Change: Rethinking preparation of Teachers
Teaching for a Practical Change: Rethinking preparation of Teachers Teaching for a Practical Change: Rethinking preparation of Teachers
Teaching for a Practical Change: Rethinking preparation of Teachers Teaching for a Practical Change: Rethinking preparation of Teachers
Teaching for a Practical Change: Rethinking preparation of Teachers Teaching for a Practical Change: Rethinking preparation of Teachers
Teaching for a Practical Change: Rethinking preparation of Teachers Teaching for a Practical Change: Rethinking preparation of Teachers
Teaching for a Practical Change: Rethinking preparation of Teachers Teaching for a Practical Change: Rethinking preparation of Teachers
Teaching for a Practical Change: Rethinking preparation of Teachers Teaching for a Practical Change: Rethinking preparation of Teachers

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