Practicalising the significance of the “history-is-all-around-us” approach in and out of the classroom
Motumi, Knysna Teboho
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The uniqueness of this study in “Practicalising the significance of the ‘history-is-all-around-us’” approach in and outside the classroom” is that it is a research engagement in the discipline of History with a strong practical element of the teaching and learning of History in the FET and GET phases. The approach to all chapters therefore were to accommodate historical and educational methods in the discussion but strongly relying on the methodological principles of History as discipline. In this research study, the utility of a “history-is-all-around-us” teaching and learning approach in and outside the classroom is suggested. Through this approach, more emphasis is placed on the considering of local and regional people’s histories (tangible and intangible legacies and events) as footprints of an area’s past in the history classroom or outdoor experience. The “history-is-all-around-us” approach should involve the habitual establishing of experiences for learners within their own teaching and learning environments. By also ensuring that there’s a deliberate consideration for thinking about the past from a multiple perspective context, should ensure a positive and balanced thought of mind by young peoples. Previous studies reported that, local, regional and oral history still appear to be highly neglected and undervalued as a teaching and learning combination in the 21st century in the GET and FET curricula in South Africa. Then, a key question is, “to what extent is practicalising participation with regard to the concept ‘history-is-all-around-us’ teaching and learning approach in and outside the classroom possible in the Parys schools, South Africa”? What emerged from the main research question as refreshing and new (inclusive of the fact that it is the first study of its kind in South Africa and also a first for Parys) was to consolidate an array of local historical events for the purpose of teaching and learning history outside the classroom. The research study has, amongst others, been inspired by Dewey’s theory of place-based education (PBE) which encourages the use of resources, issues and values of the local communities by both teachers and learners in their history classrooms. PBE is suggested for this study because it draws on the progressive idea that education should be multidisciplinary in nature, and learning activities should be authentic to the learners and seek to extend teaching and learning beyond the walls of the school. Through PBE and other related learner- centred teaching and learning approaches suggested in this study, the teaching of history should be connected to the learners’ real-world experiences that will help them to make meaningful connections among cultural, political and social issues. Furthermore, a proposed organising and teaching framework for PBE was developed and the practicalising thereof further transmitted into a history teachers’ way forward in a professional learning communities (PLCs) framework for history teachers. Through a suggested PLC history framework, a demonstration was made of an outside the classroom approach that should help learners to realise that history is not bound by classroom walls. Instead, history as an “is all around us” reality consists of events, activities and people: once as real as learners themselves. The central tenet of the study is also to move learners away from a single, master narrative approach to teaching and learning of History. By considering a “history-is-all-around-us” approach supports historical knowledge diversity, inclusivity and multi-perspectivity as promising developments. By thinking in a more robust way on what might practically work or be practically best for history learners in Africa and South Africa per se, can be a healthy departure towards transforming rigid curricula into decolonised frameworks. Also, to provide more equal opportunities in teaching and learning experiences for learners of history in schools (as the fieldwork study in this research will clearly point out as a need). As far as it concerns decolonised frameworks, it is viewed that this study is a wake-up call to history teachers who in particular deal with both space and time, to embrace opportunities in their preparation of Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) themes and specific topics from History curricula to always depart from the familiar (local/regional) to the unfamiliar (national/global). To be able to identify a suitable selection to match the content themes in the grade curriculum, the history teacher is encouraged to explore a local environment and region for its rich and diverse cultural remains. This study embarked in a similar way by emphasising the local and regional people’ histories and events that took place in and around the town of Parys, South Africa. The departure point is the choice of schools in the research study which represent a rich and significant people and events associated with the names of these schools that are situated in and around Parys. By engaging learners in tracing the history of schools’ names such as AM Lembede and HF Verwoerd Primary, Schonkenville Intermediate, as well as Barnard Molokoane Comprehensive Secondary, teachers will be assisting learners to by-pass the temptation of ‘memorisation’ of dry facts and dates in their history classrooms. Therefore, the key purpose with this study is to assist history teachers with, and introduce them to, understanding the basics of what regional and local histories are with particular interest to parts of the history of Parys. Importantly so the purpose had been to also instil a sense among practitioners of what it means to practicalise local/regional history for learners in History curriculum content. Moreover, the local and regional history close to a school or educational space also serves as evidence of a rich past that can, with responsible and informed innovativeness, be explored for its ties with national and world-linked CAPS topics. Any GET and FET history curriculum approach that promotes greater social cohesion among learners through a common sense of local and regional histories – and infused by a cultural heritage footprint that’s connected to a form of national belonging – should benefit in the suggested re-construction process of thinking and learning in history. Lastly to add that the study contributes to the teaching and learning of history in compliance with, a “century skills revolution era”. As technology is driving the social lives of learners, its proper use is an effective way to promote learner engagement, conversation and dialogue that can result in a passion for lifelong learning among the history learners. By practicalising the significance of “history-is-all-around-us” approach in and outside the classroom it will help to create a culture of critical thinking, inquiry and open-minded discussion among the learners in the classrooms of the 21st century.
- Humanities