Teaching across the curriculum - narratives of teachers' experiences in the primary school.
Govender, Selvanaigee Sagree.
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There have been some fundamental changes to the education system within post apartheid South Africa. Firstly, in the primary school there are some teachers who were trained as specialist teachers before 1994, and some teachers were trained to teach in the new approach called Outcomes Based Education. A new school curriculum within an outcomes based approach was introduced systematically over a decade. This new curriculum required new ways of teaching and organization. One of the significant changes to the schooling structure was the introduction of a phase-based structure, divided into foundation phase, intermediate phase, senior phase and further education phase. Within this new structure of schooling, curriculum policies guided the teaching and learning in each of these phases of schooling. In the primary school, teaching across the subject curriculum was introduced, where teachers were now expected to teach up to as many as 9 subjects to learners in a class. Of concern is that these teachers had specialized in three subjects during their initial training as teachers, and were now expected to teach subjects that they may not have specialized in. When teaching across the curriculum, the mismatch between training and teaching is increased and results in more curriculum and teaching demands being placed on teachers. This mismatch makes it very difficult for experienced teachers to cope with subjects that they are not familiar with. There are no specific qualifications that develop teachers to teach across the curriculum. Qualifications, at most, develop competence in teaching across three school subjects, but the practice of teaching across the curriculum often requires teachers to teach more than three school subjects to a grade. Teachers have specialized in subjects that are different from what they are currently teaching. My study is a focus on narratives of teachers’ experiences teaching across the curriculum in the primary school. I used a qualitative research methodology within the interpretivist paradigm. I used purposeful sampling, where the participants were handpicked. Data was generated through intensive interviews and document analysis. Audio tapes were used to record the participants’ voices, and later retrieved. Data was reconstructed by me, and retained for analysis. The recorded data was analyzed, using codes, themes and categories. Member checks were used to ensure rigour and trustworthiness. It is evident from this study that teaching across the curriculum requires professional training, ongoing professional development and correct placement in schools to alleviate all the stress and anxiety teachers face in the primary school Teacher training institutions must look at the curriculum and see how best they can assist trainee primary school teachers to fit into a generalist curriculum. This mean that teachers who teach across the curriculum were burdened with more administrative and accountability regimes than other specialist teachers because of the larger number of school subjects that they were responsible for. This administrative overburden is coupled with the greater teaching demands and, therefore, makes it very difficult for these teachers to cope with the workload.