Stories as teaching tools in grade R classes
Ross, Suzanne Lucille Anne
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The rationale to embark upon this research is based on the notion that stories are effective tools to support the teacher in implementing the curriculum as an entity instead of fragmented sections. Learning Outcome 1 outlined in the Revised National Curriculum Statement (DoE, 2002a:14) Languages Policy Document of the Grade R section states that the learner should be able to … [understand] short, simple stories …” by “ … [joining] in choruses at appropriate points … [draw] a picture of the story … [connect] the story to his own life …”. The goals of the proposed curriculum necessitated an investigation to firstly, establish whether stories are in fact used and if so how the stories are used. Secondly, I explored whether stories are integrated with other subjects in the curriculum. In the research the teachers were also assisted to expose Grade R children to stories whereby they could deal with traumas such as HIV and AIDS. The research was conducted before the implementation of CAPS (DBE, 2011b) but in the recommendations a model based on CAPS is proposed. The research was conducted with Grade R children therefore it was important to adhere to ethical considerations, such as anonymity and a protocol to follow the school programme. Of importance was to observe when you work with children you should acknowledge the sensitivity around their privacy and emotional needs especially with regards to fears and traumas. Based on the assumption by Levine and Foster as cited in Jackson (2000: 276) that “... story telling ... art, and music could be healing tools”, there seemed to be a need to research whether these were used as learning materials to empower teachers in Grade R classes. The literature underpins the theoretical framework. The theoretical framework was based on story theory and the integrated approach. In order to assess the approaches of teachers I applied an epistemological paradigm emanating from a qualitative framework which was embedded in a constructivist/interpretivist approach. The research design was a case study. I used interviews and questionnaires as research instruments. Triangulation was applied to validate my findings. In analysing the types of stories, it served to establish which kinds of stories appealed to the target group and what effect these stories had on the children. The integration of stories and other areas in the curriculum possibly gave more scope for optimal utilisation of the imagination of children. It was imperative to determine how teachers could be assisted to implement an approach whereby the imagination of a child is stimulated and optimally utilised in order to develop linguistic and social skills, as well as help learners to cope with trauma. The research was conducted in Grade R classes in the Western Cape, representing various strata of society namely a previously disadvantaged state school, a former model C school, a privately funded institution and a non-governmental institution. Ultimately the research was driven with the intention that once the approach had been negotiated and implemented the children and teachers would benefit. The types of stories and activities in the programmes presented were of great significance. It also called for creative and innovative teachers, who were not only acquainted with the circumstances of all the children they taught, but similarly equally sensitive to the circumstances of the children. The findings were informed by the data gathered at the schools, based on the main research questions and the subsidiary questions. Most teachers recognised the importance and value of stories as well as the significance of integration. However, the integration was mostly reserved for language lessons. The main recommendations are with regards to the teaching approaches to integrate lessons, selections of stories to integrate lessons, an environment conducive to integration of lessons and the role of the education department.