Prior to the advent of the new democratic political dispensation in 1994, South Africaneducation had laboured under racially motivated discriminatory practices of active exclusion ofthe majority of learners. The authoritarian system located educational problems in the perceiveddeficiencies of the learner rather than in the repressive, top-down, non-participative, unreflectiveand uninclusive practices of the prevailing educational orthodoxy of the time. After 1994, thebroader reconceptualisation of South African education sought to redress the imbalances of thepast by creating equal opportunities for all learners, irrespective of race or creed. However, thedifficult conundrum was how such a complex systemic change could be driven by teachers whohad not only been trained in a heavily segregated educational system but formed part of it.Therefore, the aim of the thesis was to determine how teachers conceptualised inclusive teaching,explore the teaching practices that were believed to be effective in promoting inclusion in theSouth African secondary classrooms, and determine how they could be developed.The two-dimensional research study firstly took the form of a qualitative collaborative action research project conducted with a team of fifteen teachers at a single South African secondaryschool. The project was non-positivistic, critical, emancipatory and allowed the participantsjointly to define the constructs of inclusive education, inclusive teaching and inclusive class; toidentify practices of inclusion through observation; to adopt other practices in their classes; todetermine the effect of such practices on inclusive teaching and learning; and finally to drawconclusions about the specific practices that were clearly effective in the context of their school.Secondly, an inductive analytical framework was used by the researcher to determine thetheoretical contribution the study would make to the notion of developing inclusive teachingpractices and determining the way this could be achieved within the South African schoolcontext. Data were collected through a series of meetings, participant observations, focus-groupinterviews, and one-on-one semi-structured interviews during the action-research stages ofplanning, action and reflection. Limitations were the teacher-researchers' lack of experience inconducting research and the limited time the research team had to complete the research tasks.The findings indicate that, at the time of the research, the conceptualisations of inclusiveteaching and inclusive pedagogy were varied and continued to be influenced by the formerspecial-needs education system. Moreover, the findings show that, while the inclusive practicesidentified by the teachers in this study are popular in the international literature, they need to becontextualised in and made relevant to the South African situation. However, it is clear that theteachers' experience of participating in the action-research process had raised their awareness ofthe importance of inclusive teaching, promoted a sense of emancipation, and held out theprospect of successful and possibly lasting change. These findings clearly imply that thereconceptualisation of inclusive pedagogy should always take place within a specific context, andthat South African teachers in particular should form communities of inquiry to reflect on anddevelop their inclusive practices. The study has captured the essence of inclusion within theSouth African school context and has identified areas that need further research, for example theimpact of different cultural beliefs on both teachers and learners in relation to inclusion.In conclusion, the study has demonstrated the unique contribution of action research inpromoting continuous reflection, revision and intervention as indispensable procedures in theprocess of improving inclusive teaching and learning.
|Date of Award
|1 Aug 2013
- The University of Manchester
|David Dyson (Supervisor) & Susie Miles (Supervisor)
- •inclusion, inclusive pedagogy, inclusive teaching, inclusive education, inclusive classroom