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The skills-based approach to History teaching: perceptions of teachers in selected secondary schools.

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In the light of the decision by the ad hoc Provincial History Subject Committee of the KwaZulu-Natal Education Department to implement the skills-based approach to history teaching in 1995 (which by November 1995 had not materialised) and to plan that the 1996 common national matriculation examination be skills-oriented, this study examines the preparedness and level of awareness of hi.story teachers, in selected secondary schools, about the implications of introducing such an approach. Dominant trends in history teaching in South Africa are described and the consequences of a ragical shift in teaching methodology are examined. Teachers from selected schools in Umlazi answered structured open ended questionnaires. The purpose of the empirical research was to establish if the key role players in the implementation of the skills-based approach, the teachers, are ready for the challenge. They were asked questions based on their own history teaching practices, their concerns, how they envisaged the new history curriculum, and how they teach historical skills, if at all. The results were analyzed to establish whether teachers are ready to deal with the past imbalances of the education provisions in their schools along with attempts to learn and practise the new history teaching approach and unlearn the old teacher anci subject centred approaches. The study discovered that teachers still largely prefer content-based teaching methods and that the external assessment of the standard 10 candidates dominates their teaching methodology. Their attitude towards the teaching of historical skills is favourable but they do not practice this in their own teaching. Attention is drawn to the contradiction that exists between the stated aims of the history syllabus which mentions the teaching of skills, attitudes and content, and the external examination of factual content: The study results suggest that immediate implementation of the skills-based approach will be problematic and makes a number of recommendations.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg.