An exploration of educator's and learners' perceptions of learner discipline at an all-boys primary school in the southern region of Durban.
John, Samuel Eric Vedanayagam.
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Poor learner discipline, a problem for both educators and learners at South African public schools, ranges from violence to issues with classroom management. As a result of learner-on- learner violence, learners generally feel that schools are unsafe places to be in (Premdev, 2008). Schools have become challenging contexts for effective teaching and learning to take place in, owing to the presence of bullying, disobedience, drug addiction, vandalism, rape, assault, use of obscene language and disrespect for teachers (Anderson, 2009). With examination results on a downward spiral, De Lange and Mbanjwa (2008) report that poor learner discipline in schools is strongly implicated in learner underachievement. This study, which is an exploration of educators’ and learners’ perceptions of poor learner discipline, is underpinned by research in the construction of masculinities, which submits that masculine identity is a gendered social construction, and as such, is subject to transformation. The research project suggests that whilst schools, by virtue of the ways in which they tend to be organised, condone and perpetuate the formation of hegemonic masculinities in boys, they are also able to effect meaningful change and usher in emancipation to this locale. Some of the key findings include:- • Poor learner discipline in boys reflected their own constructions of dominant male gender identities, formed as a result of their life experiences in a world embedded with notions and practices of patriarchal hegemony; • Poor learner discipline and the ineffective management thereof contributed to a poor teaching and learning environment that disadvantaged all learners; • Female educators relinquish their agency to successfully deal with poor learner discipline when they choose to let male educators handle their disciplinary problems, thereby becoming complicit in entrenching notions of male superiority; • Male educators tend to resort to the use of corporal punishment; • Violence in the home and wider community is reproduced in learners at school. The study discusses approaches that may be employed in achieving a more just and empowering teaching and learning context for educators, as well as learners at schools.