An exploration of how curriculum changes affect the emotions of grade 11 science teachers.
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With the inception of democratic governance in South Africa in 1994, significant changes had to be implemented, in order to align the government with the Constitution of the country. This included the need to effect widespread changes in education, not only in 1994, but on an ongoing basis, so as to rectify the imbalances of the past and to continue to make improvements. There have been multiple changes to the Grade 11 Life Sciences curriculum which have presented teachers with one challenge after the next as they grapple to come to terms with each change. Initially Outcomes Based Education (OBE) was introduced, then cam Curriculum 2005 (C2005), followed by the national Curriculum Statements (NCS) and finally the Curriculum and Policy Statements (CAPS). As a Life Science teacher, the lack of stability in the subject was frustrating. Hence, the purpose of this study is to explore what emotions Grade 11 Life Sciences teachers have experienced as regards the curricular changes. Furthermore, the study aims to discover how teachers have coped with and responded to these curricular changes. A further goal of the research is to contribute to the field of research regarding Life Sciences teachers’ emotional experiences concerning curricular changes; and also to examine the strategies that teachers use in response to curricular changes. The focus of the research is on the teachers who were teaching Life Sciences at Grade 11 level in 2015. This study is underpinned by the conceptual framework of the emotional geographies, developed by Hargreaves (2001), and of the genealogy of emotions, developed by Zembylas (2003b). The research is conducted within the interpretive paradigm. The data collected is sourced from the Life Sciences teachers under the Pholela Circuit in Bulwer, located in the Harry Gwala District of KwaZulu-Natal. The methods of collection include questionnaires and individual interviews with selected teachers. The qualitative data collected is analysed using thematic analysis. The findings indicate that the Life Sciences teachers experience mixed emotions, ranging from positive to negative feelings with regards to curricular changes. A range of feelings of excitement regarding the nature and need for changes is noted, but the participants also indicated their frustration and concern regarding the manner in which the changes were introduced, the expectations of the Department of Education, and the lack of appropriate support and resources in place to effect the changes. In coping and responding to the curricular changes, teachers have developed “bags of tricks” in order to achieve the purpose of teaching, namely to impart sound knowledge. Teachers believe that it is detrimental to teach learners content knowledge with which they themselves are not confident; hence they make every effort to develop themselves in order for teaching and learning to become a successful experience. The findings of this study could assist the curriculum planners as well as Life Science teachers to understand the importance of emotions in the teaching process, and to ensure that when future curricular changes are introduced; emotional support is also provided. At the same time, curricular changes are necessary and teachers need to strive to expand and deepen their subject content knowledge for their own development.