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"New teachers for new times?" Exploring the concept of "communities of practice" in teacher education in rural South Africa

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Abstract:

Teaching in schools is a complex terrain and many traditional approaches to teacher education ignore the powerful multidimensional nature of learning that comes from the broader cultural artifact and the environment where the teaching and learning takes place. Learning cannot take place without the understanding of broader social, cultural and political environment where the teachers teach. Using Wenger’s (1998) notion of ‘community of practice’ i.e. a group of people engage in collective learning in a shared domain of human endeavour, this paper explores the role of cohorts or ‘community of practice’ of pre-service teacher development in the rural areas of South Africa. Given that a large portion of South African population is still lives in rural areas, not much has changed in the schools in rural areas since the beginning of new ear after the departure of apartheid regime in 1994. One key reason of this failure is that the South African teacher education is less relevant to local needs and lack contextualization in relation to the ground realities of poverty, HIV and AIDS, gender violence, lack of physical resources at schools and lack of commitment from in-service teachers.

The data reported in this paper was collected over a period of three years from 2007 to 2009 using participatory evaluation to evaluate Rural Teacher Education Project (RTEP), a local school-university partnership in the province of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. RTEP was initiated by the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) in collaboration of two rural schools in Vulindlela district. The data include interviews, participatory workshops, focus group discussion with approximately 60 novice teachers, 20 mentor teachers, two school principals, and the project staff members from the UKZN. In addition, in-formal meetings were also held with the district education department officials, local community activists and the parents of the learners in the two schools.
The data suggested, on one hand, the partnership project helped to build a ‘community of practice’ of the partners, which helped the preservice teachers to understand rurality and develop themselves professionally. On the other hand, it also highlighted several tensions and resistance were also observed among the members of ‘community of practice’, for example tensions related to social capital which each of the student teachers possessed and the conflicts between ‘external’ vs ‘internal’ members of ‘communities of practice’.
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Association:
Name: 55th Annual Conference of the Comparative and International Education Society
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http://www.cies.us


Citation:
URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p494194_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Islam, Faisal. ""New teachers for new times?" Exploring the concept of "communities of practice" in teacher education in rural South Africa" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 55th Annual Conference of the Comparative and International Education Society, Fairmont Le Reine Elizabeth, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, May 01, 2011 <Not Available>. 2014-11-26 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p494194_index.html>

APA Citation:

Islam, F. , 2011-05-01 ""New teachers for new times?" Exploring the concept of "communities of practice" in teacher education in rural South Africa" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 55th Annual Conference of the Comparative and International Education Society, Fairmont Le Reine Elizabeth, Montreal, Quebec, Canada <Not Available>. 2014-11-26 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p494194_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: Teaching in schools is a complex terrain and many traditional approaches to teacher education ignore the powerful multidimensional nature of learning that comes from the broader cultural artifact and the environment where the teaching and learning takes place. Learning cannot take place without the understanding of broader social, cultural and political environment where the teachers teach. Using Wenger’s (1998) notion of ‘community of practice’ i.e. a group of people engage in collective learning in a shared domain of human endeavour, this paper explores the role of cohorts or ‘community of practice’ of pre-service teacher development in the rural areas of South Africa. Given that a large portion of South African population is still lives in rural areas, not much has changed in the schools in rural areas since the beginning of new ear after the departure of apartheid regime in 1994. One key reason of this failure is that the South African teacher education is less relevant to local needs and lack contextualization in relation to the ground realities of poverty, HIV and AIDS, gender violence, lack of physical resources at schools and lack of commitment from in-service teachers.

The data reported in this paper was collected over a period of three years from 2007 to 2009 using participatory evaluation to evaluate Rural Teacher Education Project (RTEP), a local school-university partnership in the province of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. RTEP was initiated by the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) in collaboration of two rural schools in Vulindlela district. The data include interviews, participatory workshops, focus group discussion with approximately 60 novice teachers, 20 mentor teachers, two school principals, and the project staff members from the UKZN. In addition, in-formal meetings were also held with the district education department officials, local community activists and the parents of the learners in the two schools.
The data suggested, on one hand, the partnership project helped to build a ‘community of practice’ of the partners, which helped the preservice teachers to understand rurality and develop themselves professionally. On the other hand, it also highlighted several tensions and resistance were also observed among the members of ‘community of practice’, for example tensions related to social capital which each of the student teachers possessed and the conflicts between ‘external’ vs ‘internal’ members of ‘communities of practice’.


Similar Titles:
An examination of the natural resource asset base of African rural households: A case study of KwaDube, a rural community in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Strengthening Educational Quality through Improvements in Teaching Quality: CRS’ experience working with Community-Based-Education Teachers in Rural Afghanistan

New teachers for new times: a school-university partnership for educational change in rural South Africa

Exploring the Impact of Literacy Teacher Education Programs on Teacher Candidates’ Instructional Practices


 
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