Enhancing a culture of teaching, learning and values in a grade 12 geography classroom: A case study in a secondary school in the Western Cape
Stuurman, Verna Virginia Felicia
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This research study, which is a case study, investigates strategies employed by educators to enhance the culture of teaching, learning and values in a Grade 12 Geography classroom in a secondary school in the Western Cape. In the contemporary school context educators are experiencing an increasingly challenging time to ensure learner achievement, participation and general interest in their school work. As Geography educator, I often grappled with the issues of low achievement and interest levels among learners. I realised that unless educators • employ effective strategies to develop resilient learners; • change their classroom practice to suit learner needs; • involve learners in decisions regarding their education; and • show a genuine interest in learners the demands and challenges would not be diminished. I conducted a local and global literature review on enhancing a culture of teaching and learning in the Geography classroom as well as a case study carried out by Grade 12 educators and learners at a secondary school in the Western Cape. The research study was an attempt to explore possible solutions to the challenges in the classroom. It focused on an initiative by the Grade 12 educators and learners in pursuit of more creative ways of dealing with Geography content. The research study was qualitative in nature and aimed to investigate strategies educators could employ to enhance a culture of teaching, learning and values in the Geography classroom. The research approach was interpretive and the design was a case study. Interviews, questionnaires and observations were used to collect the required data. The data collected shows that through this project, learners were sensitized on human rights and values issues. They discovered that learning could be an enjoyable experience. The skills, knowledge and values emerging from this project were invaluable, since it changed the way learners viewed the learning experience. The focus was particularly on the Further Education and Training Geography curricular experience. Over the past decade, challenges pertaining to learners’ attitudes to education have intensified. The factors impacting on learner achievement and attitudes are extensive, especially in impoverished and historically deprived communities. In modern society social evils like alcoholism, drug abuse, gangsterism and the associated violence and criminal behaviour are taking their toll. A direct consequence of societal moral decay manifests itself in behavioural problems e.g. aggressive behaviour, vandalism and general ill-discipline. The implementation of the new National Curriculum Statement has also impacted extensively on educators and learners alike. For many educators who were set in conventional methodologies, the process was complicated and difficult to adapt to. The new curriculum poses unique challenges with regard to planning, self discipline and work ethos. It has been associated with a total change in the approach towards teaching and learning. Many educators found it difficult to adapt to the new way of managing the curriculum. Evidence from the data confirmed that educators were willing to employ different strategies to address and improve learner performance. However, the appropriate conditions of teaching and learning are often non-existent. Barriers to teaching and learning need to be addressed efficiently to ensure a supportive and enabling learning environment. The data also showed that educators achieved more through this strategy than initially envisaged. This would pave the way for other initiatives and strategies to ensure improved classroom practice and subsequently enhance the culture of teaching, learning and values.