Secondary school educators' experiences of the educator–learner relationship in the Gauteng Province of South Africa
The focus of this study was to explore the experiences of secondary school educators concerning the educator-learner relationship. The study hopes to add value in developing sustainable support to enhance the quality of life and well-being of South African educators. The study highlights specific aspects of the educators’ perspective (Koomen et al., 2011; Philip, 2008; Skaalvik & Skaalvik, 2011; Easter et al., 2008), such as cultural perspective, attachment perspective, career satisfaction perspective and academic perspective. According to Philippson (2009) it is important to understand educators’ holistic experiences concerning the educator-learner relationship. The following research question arose: What are the experiences of secondary school educators in the Gauteng area, South Africa, of the educator-learner relationship? This research was conducted within a Positive Psychology framework and a qualitative method was used. Data were collected via personal interviews and focus group discussions as research techniques. Purposeful sampling was used and six secondary school educators from various secondary schools in the Gauteng Province of South Africa were participants of this study. The objective of this study was to understand and interpret holistic experiences of secondary school educators in the educator-learner relationship that contribute to the educators’ phenomenology. Data were gathered through individual interviews during which each participant was motivated through visual mapping to express his/her hierarchy of ideas contributing to the phenomenon. The collected data were audio-recorded and a narrative analysis was conducted in which trustworthiness was obtained through member checking to ensure that the recorded and observed data were correctly transcribed and evaluated accordingly. Findings of this study are presented by means of the following themes: Different aspects of the supportive educator-learner relationship; awareness of differences in the educator-learner relationship; important perspectives of “a calling” in respect of the educators’ experiences; role of emotions in an educator-learner relationship; challenges for the educator in the educator-learner relationship; role of discipline and values in an educator-learner relationship; phenomenology of the educators’ experiences. Results indicate that educators’ positive experiences of the educator-learner relationship can be viewed as an investment in the well-being and positive functioning of both the educator as well as the learners. A recommendation for future research is to develop a support system for secondary school educators to encourage them in a psycho-social, emotional and spiritual way towards sustainable well-being.
- Humanities