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Title: A socio-cultural analysis of geography classroom practice in Botswana senior secondary schools
Author: Tabulawa, Richard Tjombe.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3495 4230
Awarding Body: University of Birmingham
Current Institution: University of Birmingham
Date of Award: 1995
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Africa is replete with examples of 'borrowed' curriculum innovations that have failed to be institutionalised. This failure has largely been rationalised in terms of technical problems associated with innovation delivery systems. By adopting a technicist stance toward problems of curriculum change curriculum developers in Developing Countries have paid scant attention to the fact that innovations are necessarily social constructions, and as such are not value-neutral. Their transfer from one socio-cultural context to another, therefore, is bound to be problematic. For a transferred innovation to be institutionalised in its host (new) environment values embedded in it need to be congruent with the values and past experiences of those who are expected to adopt it or else tissue rejection (Hoyle, 1970) will occur. In this thesis the above concern is addressed within the context of pedagogical proposals made in the report, Education for Kagisano (Social Harmony),(1977), mainly that teachers in Botswana public secondary schools should adopt a leamercentred pedagogy. Classroom research in Botswana, however, indicates that this has not happened. This thesis, therefore, is an attempt to explain why teachers appear to have rejected the proposed pedagogy. Rather than adopting a technicist stance in this endeavour, here we adopt a socio-cultural approach in which we recognise the social nature of pedagogical styles. From this premise we then argue that adopti~~., or rejection of pedagogical innovations is also a function of the sociocultural context in " which an attempt to implement the former is being made. Basically, the thesis has two facets; the theoretical and the empirical. At a theoretical level we argue that leamer-centred pedagogy is incongruent with Tswana social structure. In the context of Botswana, therefore, the former may be perceived as 'foreign' by teachers, students and parents. We illustrate this incongruence by analysing Tswana child-rearing practices, demonstrating that these promote in children a 'dependent' mode of thinking which they carry to the classroom as their cultural baggage. It is this mode of thinking that structures teachers' and students' classroom practices leading to authoritarian classroom relationships and teaching style. Analysis of the historical evolution of formal education in Botswana also demonstrates that it (education) has always been authoritarian in practice. Educational practice in Botswana, therefore, appears to be based on Freire's 'banking' theory of education. The latter characterises the 'immunological condition' of Botswana's public educational system and constitutes the teachers' and students' taken-for-granted classroom world. Analysis of the leamer-centred pedagogy, however, shows that it is epistemologically different from the banking theory ofeducation. For this reason the introduction of the former in Botswana public schools might constitute radical, de-stabilising and de-skilling, change. This may only be expected to lead to the teachers' and students' rejection of the proposed pedagogy. It is against this theoretical position that the empirical aspect of the study is carried out. By employing an interpretive approach (and through the medium of geography teaching) we attempt to map out the nature of teaching/learning patterns in two contrasting schools in Botswana, and to understand the meanings teachers and students attach to the observed patterns. The ultimate aim is to understand the implications these meanings and assumptions have for pedagogical change. The study'S findings reveal that geography classroom practices in the two schools differ markedly. Teachers' and students' classroom practical knowledge in the two schools appears to be informed by their utilitarian view of schooling, the view of the nature of knowledge they hold, teachers' perceptions of their students' social background, and the schools' organisational structures. These are aspects of the socio-cultural context which, in the case of public schooling in Botswana, appear as 'stabilised elements' or structures which lead to the production and reproduction of an authoritarian pedagogical style in schools. To break this reproductive cycle, therefore, demands more than just technical solutions. It also demands that educators and curriculum developers reassess and question their basic assumptions about knowledge and human nature. This would have important implications for teacher education. To facilitate the institutionalisation of a learner-centred pedagogy in the schools structural changes in the educational system are also essential. There is need to localise external examinations and empower teachers by democratising curriculum development and decision making. To facilitate this, decentralisation of the educational system is essential. Democratising educational practice in Botswana should be seen in the context of a country committed to democratic social and political values. The classroom has a role to play in this respect
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available