Case studies of economics teaching in secondary schools.
Maistry, Suriamurthee Moonsamy.
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The purpose of this research study was to establish the perceptions of economics teaching of two teachers of economics who were functioning in two contrasting contexts. The intention was to examine their practice and to ascertain the extent to which the relationship between their beliefs and their practice was constrained or facilitated by the context in which they taught. The study made use of interviews and classroom observations to address these issues. The research confirmed that there was a disjunction between the teachers' theories of economics teaching and their actual practice and that their practice was mediated by the context in which they functioned. Both teachers shared very similar epistemologies. They concurred on assessment techniques and teaching methodology in economics. They also agreed that the goal of economics teaching was to engender a love of the subject. However, the vastly different contexts in which they taught spawned unique coping strategies to deal with their peculiar teaching environments. The 'macro' c~nstraints which they faced emanated from external institutions that imposed overt and hidden rules and expectations upon them. Internal constraints were derived from the peculiar context of each school. The study revealed that the teacher operating in the more repressive context displayed a greater degree of dissonance between beliefs and practice as compared to the teacher in the more favourable context. The teacher in the favourable context was better able to implement her beliefs about economics teaching. However, she was faced with new challenges created by the information explosion as a result of the school's access to the Internet. Though the nature of the discipline urges a problem-solving approach to economics teaching and even though both teachers concurred with this view, the constraints of the context were compelling factors that hindered teachers' educational ideals. Of note , was the fact that the more repressive the context, the greater were the constraints facing the teacher, and the more complex were the strategies employed by the teacher in order to cope. The more complex the coping strategy, the greater was the disjunction between teachers' theories about economics teaching and their practice.