Educational Journal of Living Theories
Jerome Thamsanqa Gumede
Volume x(y): nx-ny
Living Theory Development of Black African (Zulu) Male Educator
Title Living Theory Development of Black African (Zulu) Male Educator
Publication Type Journal article
Year of publication 201?
Author Jerome Gumede
Journal Education Journal of Living Theories
Type of article Journal article
Abstract This paper is a product of my research thesis as I reflected on the influences in my development. This article outlines the manner in which my living theory based on Ubuntu –humanity and Ukuhlonipha –respect was developed and applied in my management of a rural high school. My research practice drew on a combination of the methods a combination of Living Theory, Self Study, Auto-ethnography, and Narrative Enquiry methods as I enquired: Why do I do things the way I do? And What has enabled me to meet, face and resolve the challenges that I have come across in life?
The questions that I wish to answer are: How and when my living theory was developed? How did I successfully manage a rural high school with meager resources? The questions are then answered as I unpack how I managed Mthusi High School as the head teacher.
Living Theory Development of Black African (Zulu) Male Educator
Educational Journal of Living Theories
Living Theory Development of Black African (Zulu) Male Educator
Jerome Thamsanqa Gumede
South Africa Copyright: © 2018 Gumede This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative commons Attribution Non-‐Commercial
License, which permits unrestricted non-‐commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Living Theory Development of Black African (Zulu) Male Educator
Jerome Thamsanqa Gumede
This paper is a product of my research thesis as I reflected on the influences in my development. This article outlines the manner in which my living theory based on Ubuntu –humanity and Ukuhlonipha –respect was developed and applied in my management of a rural high school. My research practice drew on a combination of the methods a combination of Living Theory, Self Study, Auto-ethnography and Narrative Enquiry methods as I enquired: Why do I do things the way I do? And what has enabled me to meet, face and resolve the challenges that I have come across in life?
The questions that I wish to answer in this article are: How and when my living theory was developed? How did I successfully manage a rural high school with meager resources? The questions are then answered as I unpack how I managed Mthusi High School as the head teacher.
Keywords: Development, Living Theory, Management Style, Open Distance Learning, Rural High School
This paper is a product of my reflection on the influences in my development. My reflection is similar to what Schon defines as: Reflective practice by which professionals become aware of their implicit knowledge base and learn from their experience. He talks of about reflection in action and reflection action. Another example he uses to describe knowing in action is riding bike.
Retrieved from https://graysredinggroup.wordpress.com October 7, 2019
I believe that as in riding a bike one learns and he rides and rides as he learns. My reflection on my development is based on looking at the influences on my development as caused by my family, my school career, work experience, my studies as distance open learning student.
This article is told in a traditional narrative style that follows no chronology as it is in Zulu folklore; the/a story may start from the body, conclusion as well as the introduction –as the story teller and the audience become part of the story telling performance. I hope my reader will also experience that unusual way in my writing where chronology is superseded by the importance of telling my experiences as I feel-think-say my visceral mimisms-how I receive, register and replay my environmental experiences Jousse (2000).
I started teaching in 1981 after a two year junior secondary teachers training at Amanzimtoti Zulu Training School. The training school was one of the Apartheid era training schools that emphasized ethnicity as a means of entrenching the Apartheid Policy of the National Party regime. Towards completion of the teachers’ course the training school introduced a three year course. I wanted to enroll for the third year when there were third year students in 1984. I was told that the curriculum was not the same as the one I had passed in 1980. I was disappointed when I could not enroll. My disappointment was short lived as I enrolled with the University of South Africa- Open Distance Learning and I became fully engaged in studies.
My main aim of enrolling was a sense of inadequacy that I had for my two year training. Upon reflection I now realize that my disappointment was actually an illusion born out of the belief that the three training was better than my two year training. In this paper I wish to dispel my illusion and demonstrate how and when my living theory was developed. How did I successfully manage a rural high school with meager resources despite my two year training as a teacher? I will define what living theory is and how my living theory was developed.
I will provide discourse of my narrative as an example of a living theory practice. I will give an account of my first school visit to the new school, learners’ attitude/my attitude, educators’ attitude and the Department of Education’s contribution, parental contribution, developments, successes and my farewell function. I then reflect on education in general, teaching in rural schools in the Republic of South Africa, living theory and give a word of advice to newly-employed educators. I thus end up in a conclusion of the article.
What is living theory?
Whitehead (2008:104) asserts that: “A living theory is an explanation produced by an individual for their educational influence in their own learning, in the learning of others and in the learning of the social formation in which they live and work”.
Whitehead’s declaration has challenged me to reflect, to demonstrate how and when my living theory was developed. I explain how I successfully manage a rural high school with meager resources notwithstanding my two year training as a teacher, I then reflect on how and when I learned my management style that was based on my living theory as an individual. What educational influence did I receive that shaped my management style? What conditions prevailed in my life that formed fertile ground for the development of my management. I must state that my success was not an individual effort but a collective endeavor. The accolades were bestowed to me as a head teacher for/of the school representing the educators and the school community. I believe that what the school achieves is not the effort of educators and learners but the families from whence the learners come play a major unnoticed role in shaping the lives of the learners.
How was my living theory developed?
I attribute my theory development and success to my family, my carer (nanny), my involvement to sport, my school career, my community involvement, and my teaching because these provided me with the educational influence in my learning, in the learning of others and the learning of the social formation in which I lived and worked (Whitehead, 2008:108). I learned Ubuntu(humanity) and inhlonipho(respect) from my family.
“Ubuntu means love, truth, peace, happiness, eternal optimism inner goodness etc. Ubuntu is the essence of a human being, the divine spark of goodness inherent within each being. From the beginning of time the divine principles of Ubuntu have guided African societies”.
Retrieved from https://www.virgin.com-unite October 7, 2019. Ubuntu also involves inhlonipho-respect.
Bishop Desmond Tutu aptly puts Ubuntu as;
“Bringing people together is what we call úbuntu’ which means ‘I am because we are.’ Far often people think of themselves as just individuals, separated from one another , whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole world. When we do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole humanity.”
Retrieved from www.everyday_democracy.org October 7,2019
In line with the belief of Ubuntu is my belief that ‘I am an epitome of the living environment’ as I respond, represent, refashion my performances as influenced and I influence the world or the environment. I therefore need to do good for good to be felt in a ripple effect.
I came to school with minor challenges though I had not been at a crèche. My family had taught me self‐respect and respect of other people. I had in my small way learnt the concept of time as I had minor chores such as waking up early in the morning so as to feed the fowls, go to the garden to water my vegetables. I would also accompany my nanny when she went to our main garden to plant or remove weeds. As a male and second born in the family I also learnt to respect my two younger sisters that I played with, sometimes very harshly. I was taught to treat them with respect as they were the princesses of the family. The one that came after me was literally named Makhosazana ‐Princesses. I was also given an idea of what to expect from school. My father was a primary school teacher and we were sometimes treated as learners as I reflect on how he would give us advice or punishment. Our home was a miniature school in many ways. Breakfast, lunch and dinner were served at fixed times that are 7:00, 12: and 18:00 hours every day. Failure to honor the times was a serious offence and punishable. That discouraged us as children to eat from neighbours or have anything that would make one not to eat during lunch or dinner.
My primary school education
My primary school education occurred in two schools. From Sub-standard A to Standard 2 an equivalent of Grades 1 to 4 I attended a small primary school that ended in Grade 6 with seven educators including the head teacher. The school had a high level of discipline that was commanded by a male head teacher. I then thought the head master was feared but now realize that he was respected. His respect came from the pedagogical love, understanding and trust that he had. He was strict but very approachable. He was the only male at the school but he respected the female teachers and offered them full authority to exercise discipline. I stress the point of gender as in most cases it is believed that male educators are better disciplinarian. He had Ubuntu and that we could not see as learners.
I recall an incident that my elder brother had as he had fought with one of the learners towards the end of the school year. It had been raining for a few days and the school premises had dark clayey soil. As my brother and the other learner fought, one could not see their faces as they were covered with mud. They were then summoned to the head master’s office and they were left with head teacher. The whole school anticipated that they would be punished. As the learners were waiting, the two muddy faced boys came out of the office each with a king size cold drink bottle with their muddy faces smiling under the mud and behind them was the head master smiling.
I later understood that he could not punish them because as they were fighting and none of them was injured. It was also standard practice for the school not to mete punish on the final school day. I think that the gesture meant a lot about our head master. My first school was a place of joy, laughter, excitement therefore ideal for Ubuntu and inhlonipho nurturing that formed the basis of my learning and love for school though my next school was not as good as my first one as I will narrate.
My second primary school
I then went to another primary school for my Standard three to six an equivalent of Grades five to eight. I found the school quite different from my previous school. The school had Grades 1 to 8 with a head teacher that had total disrespect for education. The educators were not at liberty to give their suggestions in school management. The school had twelve educators, three males (head teacher and two male educators) and nine female educators. I soon realized that the school had some laxity that was prompted by the head teacher who managed the school like his home. For an example at any time learners would be asked to go and collect wood for the head teacher’s family or be asked to sing for the head teacher. The head teacher was an autocrat.
Before leaving the school for secondary education, a new head teacher arrived who put the school at the right pedestal similar to the one I knew from my previous primary school. My final year at my primary school was very constructive in preparing for secondary education. We had extra classes in the morning and on Saturdays and that instilled in me that to achieve better results more time need to be allocated to school work. My elder brother who had completed his primary school during the tenure of my previous principal was surprised when I told him about extra classes that he never had at primary school.
My Secondary school years
My Secondary school years Form I to V an equivalent of Grade 8 to 12 really shaped me for the future, as a normal practice all black learners had to spend thirteen years to complete their school career. The practice caused black learner to be a year behind learners of other racial groups even if they had started school the same year. The head teacher of my secondary school was respected and feared because he seldom laughed. He was a loving educator and gifted in music. I learned a good lesson from him; that is success comes through sweat. As a choir master he would have choir practices in the evening or during weekends if his choir was not to the standard he wanted. He respected and knew what education was.
The school had a good balance between school work and extra mural activities. The school had more male educators than females. There was a high level of discipline. Time was well managed and used profitably. One common practice that I really appreciated was that if the educator had not turned up to the class, a prefect was allowed to remind the educator about the duty of coming to class and teach. Learners were given the privilege to report any misdemeanor either from the learners or the educators. In a very loving manner the head teacher would summon either a teacher or a learner to his office that was next to my Grade 10 class. Though we could not hear what was discussed or what the nature of the misdemeanor was but body language of the one that was called to the office would tell a lot about the nature of the communication that had taken place in the office. I believe in the message of non-verbal communication as espoused by Letsoalo (2005:59) who asserts that research has shown that 35% of your message is communicated verbally, while 65% of the message is transmitted through non‐verbal communication. Verbal communication usually transfers information or facts, while non‐verbal communication transfers feelings, emotions and attitude.
My secondary school like my previous primary schools had no library but we as learners were given the taste of how the library works. The school had a room with books and we learners were to visit the room to collect two books that we were to finish reading in two weeks. For every books completed we had to write a summary as part of private reading. I must confess, for my first year the practice of private reading was not my favourite but I later enjoyed private reading. I can attribute my love for reading to it. At a later stage my father would send me to a book exchange for his novels and also give me some to read. The school’s practice of private reading and my father’s giving me books to read were the foundation of my love for reading and my realisation of the importance of education My intuitive observation of my primary and secondary school head teachers offered me an opportunity to compare their management styles and thus develop my management style. After completing Form V Grade 12 I went to work as a pensions’ clerk. I learned office management without a mentor. I performed my duties without any supervisor. I would do my job and report my progress and challenges to the magistrate.
After my training as an educator I met the magistrate to whom I was reporting and he asked me when the Department of Education was going to give me my school to manage. I was so surprised and could not reply to his question. I simply smiled and continued with the conversation that we had. The question was asked on my second year of teaching. It later dawned to me that as an experienced manager the magistrate identified my management skills from the type of work I produced as a clerk. Ludwig Wittgenstein, in Philosophical investigation (1986) that: “the aspects of things that are most important to us are hidden because of their simplicity and familiarity” I got great satisfaction from my job as a clerk because I was helping the destitute. I never dawned to me that I was actually developing management skills as I was working. My work was simple and familiar to me and I could not see what I was capable of. Upon reflection I now realize how blessed I was to have had that opportunity of working alone unsupervised as that helped me in my teaching years as well as my open distance learning.
My teacher training school
My teacher training school was well resourced compared to all my previous schools. The training school combined both secondary and teacher training learners/students. The combining of secondary and teacher training students was as unacceptable and a complaint was lodged that teacher‐training students were treated like high school learners. The teacher training management team never bothered about the complaint. The whole school was governed by the same rules. There was rule number sixteen of the prospectus which read as thus: “Comply and complain later” which in disguise meant there is no need to complain. The head teacher of the school was an Afrikaner as well as the whole management was composed of white educators and a few black educators were staff members. The school had two staffrooms one for whites and one for blacks. This was considered as normal in the Republic of South Africa before 1994 as even the schools were run on racial lines.
One morning on my second year at the training school I was summoned to head teacher’s office. I was given six good lashes with a cane on my buttocks. I was not given any explanation as to why I was punished. In the evening the head prefect came to my dormitory as asked me to pack my personal effects. I was then told that I would from that day be the dormitory prefect. Dormitory number three was known for housing most of the troublesome learners mostly high school learners. I successfully managed the dormitory and I would say I got vast experience on human resource management. I on reflection realized that there was somebody from the prefect body of the previous year that was secretly observing my moves and made recommendations that I was suitable for being a prefect. I then understood the reason for my punishment. It must have been a warning for me to mend my ways. I found life in the hostel very dull and boring and would thus live without permission. I believe though no one alerted me of my unwelcomed behaviour, I was watched. I can also attribute my success as an educator and head teacher to the experience I gained as a dormitory prefect at teacher training school. My management style was quite different from that of other prefects in that in my tenure, as a prefect not a single student received punishment. I can attribute that to my constant weekly meetings that were held in my dormitory during which rules were read and potential delinquents were deterred from their shenanigans. I can also attribute my success of managing my dormitory to my two years’ experience as a clerk. My working unsupervised taught me self-discipline which I believe was noticeable in my conduct.
My approach to my dormitory mates was not very much approved of as it was more corrective than punitive. Any authority during the Apartheid era was punitive authority that saw subordinates as culprits rather than members in good governance. I then suffered the consequences of my approach as I was viewed as a rebel that did not conform to the accepted standards of management that were in tandem with the accepted norms. I at the closing function was offered a certificate for my duties but the head teacher refused to sign it because he regarded me as a rebel prefect. I felt bad about the act of having an unsigned certificate but was happy because I did what my heart drove to do.
Even though there was that racial segregation at teacher training school but the Afrikaner educators hid their hatred towards blacks in their teaching. All my studies after my teacher training were on open distance learning. [ I received education that enabled me to teach and I ultimately obtained my Doctor of Technology in Education in 2012 through open distance learning]. I started teaching in 1981 in a school that was similar to my second primary school in all respect. The school was managed with some laxity that made teaching and learning difficult. The worse part of it was the over enrolment in classes. Some classes had as many as eighty learners most of them were beyond school going age. This was caused among other factors the scarcity of secondary schools and the level of education in rural areas. In addition to this there were very few secondary schools in rural areas compared to the townships that had a lot of secondary schools. During the 1970’s there were three secondary schools in an area of about 70 square kilometers and only one offered matriculation level education. Within six months as a teacher, I was offered an unofficial deputy head teacher’s post. This to me was a surprise but I now on reflection comprehend what the magistrate meant about me managing a school.
The principal of my first school as a teacher was a hard worker who was more in the classroom than in his office. He did most of his office work after school or on weekends. I now realize that he was trained as a primary school teacher and owning a class was what he was used to. His working style was disadvantageous in that his subordinates were not following his example of hard work. There was very little supervision and some teachers abused his management style.
I worked for three years in my first school and was seconded to another school to replace a teacher that was sickly and was then got medical boarding/incapacity. I was transferred in 1984 to a better school Mshweshwe High School. It is at this school that I met educators that were doing distance learning though the University of South Africa. The educator that were studying would discuss their assignment questions and I would listen and in some cases comment if they gave me a chance. I got motivation from them and then enrolled for my junior degree the following year 1985 after leaving their school and went back to my previous school. When I came back after my transfer the school was upgraded and it had a high school section with its head teacher. I taught for eleven years in my initial school and got promotion as a head teacher in 1993. This is the school in which I learned proper teaching through class visits by the principal. As an untrained Biology teacher I had challenges in teaching the subject. I then approached my head teacher to arrange for me to visit a seasoned Biology teacher and observed him teach the whole day. The visit to a white high school was intimidating but gave me the wings to fly in my Biology teaching. My management style is combination of attributes that I got from my family, herding, sports, my school years and observing various head masters as a learner, my work experience, student at teacher training, my teaching and, distance learning. These experiences were the development of my living theory practice.
My management narrative as an example of a living theory practice
My experiences compared to Viktor Frankl’s experiences were minor paralleled to his but I wish to borrow his words (quote attributed to Frankl but source unknown) as he avers that: What is to give light must endure burning.
I applied for a head teacher’s post in 1992. I was then invited for an interview. I had a feeling that I had passed my interview for the head teacher’s post. In preparation for my anticipated new job I visited the school before the schools opened so as to have an idea of what lay ahead of me. My excitement turned to tears of despair. This was caused by the tall grass that the school premises had. I was from a big and well–managed school with a lawn that was beautiful and well managed. I then compared what I saw to what was in front of me. My mind soon reverted to challenges that I had faced and overcome in my family and my previous work situations. I had also accumulated or formulated strategies in my mind and knew that I had no choice but hold the bull by its horns. I went home, gingerly brooding about the challenges that I saw coming. I spent days thinking about the tall grass and the weed. There were even instances that I woke up dreaming of the school with neat well and managed premises. At the time of the visit and a year after that I had no vehicle of my own. I even imagined myself carrying tools and other essentials for maintaining the school. My experiences as a learner in the schools were vast in terms of observation on how to maintain the school yard. I was now going to be fully involved and not be an assistant that I was as an educator. I then realized that to change all that I saw needing would have to start with me so as to change others and the challenges I was facing. I got my zeal from Heraclitus’s words as he states that:
“Everything is constantly shifting, changing, and becoming something other to what is was before. Heraclitus concluded that nature is change. Like a river, nature flows ever onwards, even the nature of the flow changes.”
Retrieved from https://philosophyforchange.wordpress>... October 10, 2019
My colleague once said that changing an attitude is a hundred percent activity as attitude is:
That equals to hundred percent; this stuck in me and helped me in my change.
My attitude towards a school changed and I realized that I had bitten more than I could chew. I soon captured the idea of independence and innovation. From the day of my visit till my farewell function I had to think about the school. I actually lived it and dreamt about it during the holidays as a head teacher. I had only seen only a tip of an iceberg of what lay ahead of me. I was shocked when the schools opened. The picture of what I had from my first teaching school came as double reality. The school had one hundred and twenty nine Grade 8 and 9 learners. The learners were between the ages fifteen and twenty six. Mthusi Secondary School was the first one in the area and the learners were very proud of being secondary school learners. Their pride shocked me and I was also amazed at their level of education. Some literally knew little and for some of the learners writing was a challenge. The reason behind this was that the previous year there were teaching staff challenges and they did not get proper tuition.
The biggest challenge was that they were not prepared to be taught by us as new teachers. When I arrived there were two educators that had only one year experience and one of them was my former high school learner. I then recruited two educators a male and a female both were formerly primary school teachers. The learners told us that we were not qualified to teach them. The two educators that I had recruited were former primary school teachers and I had not taught Grades 8 and 9 before, therefore it was presumed that we were not suitable educators for the learners. I believe somebody poisoned the well upon realizing the strength of the formidable army of educators that we were. I also believe there were people who wanted to see us as educator fail in our duty. I now comprehend how effective language can be abused to achieve ulterior motives Ludwig Wittgenstein, an Austrian philosopher in Philosophical Investigations (1986) believed that “philosophy is a battle against the bewitchment of our intelligence by means of language” done deliberately using words out of context so as to cause confusion. Ludwig then declares that “philosophical problems arise when language goes on holiday” that is when consideration of the “meaning of words is taken out of its context and used at a metaphysical level”. He describes the metaphysical context or environment as like being on frictionless ice that then causes problems that can be resolved if philosophers return to the “rough ground” of everyday language use (Gumede unpublished). The time of the experience of being regarded as unsuitable to teach Mthusi learners as it was said I learned to use words very wisely. The challenge was sour but I know how it helped me in my management style. I learned that when I talk to people I should keep in mind that they might not agree with me in all that I am saying. I also learned that people have expectations that they have and that I must accept that I cannot meet all their expectations. I also learned that I can only be responsible for expectations that I know of. I learned that being a teacher more especially a head teacher needs patience and understanding that learners as suggestible beings who sometimes fail to evaluate what has been given to them to convey due to their maturity.
I had intuitively acquired the notion that the interest of the child must central in all ….(Heaton,2017:80) therefore the growing child has to be protected, be understood and guided in her decision making.
The only educators that the learners were prepared to accept were their previous year’s educators. I then convened a staff meeting in which I pointed out the challenge that we were facing. I innately sensed that there people who gave them the information they had. I then put the matter to the staff members for open discussion. There was no solution to the challenge. I then opened my conversation with an admission that it was true I had not taught Grades eight and nine before except during my practice teaching, I further admitted that I had experience in teaching Grades 10, 11 and 12 only as well as adults at the Adult Centre. I then asked each educator to put forward his or her case and it came out that the two new educators had only one year experience and the other two educators had primary education teaching experience.
I finally said that it was obvious that we all had a challenge and then asked for a change of heart and attitude. We had to admit that we were new in the situation. The next move would be to face the learners and convince them that they too had a challenge. I then asserted that the Grade 9s were all new in the grade and they too had a new challenge. I further said that the repeaters in Grade 9 also had a challenge if they came from other school for Grade 9 in our school. I also narrated the same with the Grade 8 repeaters that they were also new in repeating their grade. I could hear the sighs from the educators as something new came to light. I then said the whole school had a challenge that it had to overcome. I put two choices that is; for us to close the school and wait for appropriate educators as the learners so wished or continue doing something while a request for suitable educators was tabled to the Department of Education. I then waited for the response from the educator though I knew the evident response. The second choice of continuing with teaching was favoured by all. I then moved on that we had to put the matter forward to the learners thereafter to the school committee. This was not a good move but the only one to take so as to rescue the situation. I then requested the educators to go to their respective classes where the matter was to be handled before the final discussion was handed down during assembly.
I then requested the educators and I the head teacher included to have a change in attitude and know that we were building therefore challenge was eminent. The matter was disseminated to the whole school and an agreement on the second choice was reached. We as the staff reported the matter to our ward manager who applauded us for the achievement. That was the binding factor for the ‘unfit’ staff. We then started teaching. It was not smooth sailing because learners needed more attention as even their previous year’s learning had teaching and learning challenges.
Department of Education’s contribution
The school had a great shortage of equipment in the form of books and desks, so I went to the neighbouring schools and borrowed books and desks. Though they were not enough we were able to teach with the meager resources. There were also complaints that I the head teacher was not doing my job properly because some of the learners had to sit on cement blocks that had been left behind when the school was built. I made requisitions from the department but it took over a year for the desks to be delivered. On the day of their delivery the community was ‘over the moon’ and I started to ‘see the light’.
The next challenge was that of obtaining books for the learners as only the educators had copies of textbooks to prepare their lessons and teach. It was difficult for the educators to give assignments and projects because learners had no books. It was also difficult for parents to buy books because the department had announced in the media that books would be supplied but the details were not mentioned. Parents did not know which books would be supplied by the province and which they would have to buy. As a matter of procedure, only certain grades received books every year.
When I arrived the school had a sum of less than R7000-00/£377.64 with which I had to operate with one hundred and twenty nine learners in Grades 8 and 9. Many learners were very unruly because they were mostly beyond school-going age, for example we had a learner of twenty-five years in Grade 9, when the normal age for grade nine was fourteen to fifteen years. The problems were further compounded by the fact that those years were years of political violence and most of the learners were part of the activities that were taking place in the community. Most of the learners saw discipline as ‘oppression’. The slogan “Liberation before Education” was a popular slogan in the 90’s. For them, liberation of the country was more important than education. As educators, we were seen as perpetrators of the oppressive system rather than people who were there to help the learners. As it will be noted in my next iteration of my experiences I on reflection note that we as educators and parents were faced by ethnostress; a condition that Antone and Diane Hill (1992) coined as they saw the behavior of the Canadian aborigines as they were affected by the ‘new rule’ by the westerners. South Africa is and was suffering to a similar condition that manifested and still manifests itself in wayward behavior in the community such killing of educators and learners as well as drug abuse in schools- as survival strategies in a hostile environment.
Dram Aide: The Test of Tenacity, Endurance, and Steadfastness
As a leader one faces many challenges that one has to take head on without fear of criticism or being ridiculed. It is that reason that Gumede (2011:184) states that ‘Leadership is not a popularity poll.’ In 1995, a group of AIDS awareness campaigners in collaboration with the Health Department chose Mthusi as a school with which they would work so as to raise HIV&AIDS awareness. At that time little was known about AIDS, unlike the case nowadays. Educators, the community and learners took part in assisting the health workers and the Dram Aide group, as it was called, from the University of Natal.
At the closing function of the project, learners as well as the community, were offered each an apple, a banana, a bread roll, juice and an orange. Before they finished eating, I went into my office so as to do the final touches to my work before leaving. When I left my office, I was shocked to see the school grounds densely littered with apple cores, banana skins, used toilet tissues, and orange peels. I stood for a few seconds still shocked. After a little while, I shouted “Wozani la Bakwethu” (“Come here, fellow people!”), calling everyone to assembly area. The learners and community responded and I then asked them whether they were aware that there was something wrong in the school. Silence followed. Then I realised that they saw nothing wrong with the litter that I saw on the ground. I still do not know now why I then spoke as I did. I told them that I was amazed to see that I had such a huge task to perform. Whilst they were shocked, I simply asked all those who wished to leave the school then to do so, so as to give me enough time to clean the school ground, and I further said I needed no help. No one left but they all started to collect the litter and they left the school premises spotless. From that day onwards it became the school’s principle never to throw even a sweet wrapping on the ground. As a result, Mthusi is among the neatest, tidiest rural schools in the UGu District.
I do not think that what happened on that day was a deliberate action but the learners and community had never before had anyone face them about taking care of their environment as I did. I still do not understand why the throwing of apple pips, banana skins, used toilet tissues, and orange peels on the ground was done and have not even asked anyone about it. I now wish I had. As herd boys we learnt ukuhlanzeka (cleanliness) and ukuhlonipha imvelo (respect for nature) and my mother’s waking us up to sweep the yard at home entrenched the value of a clean environment. Seeing the litter shocked me and made me sensitive to seeing papers on the ground. I then developed the habit of picking up papers that made learners to pick them whenever they saw me approaching. The incident narrated above occurred in my third year as the head master. The school was then upgraded and had Grade eleven. My victory on the school premises was short lived.
As the number of learners increased, the nature of disciplinary problems increased. In 1996 we introduced a Grade 11 class. Learners from other schools joined our learners. The newcomers complained about many things such as: “Mthusi is like a prison”. “Too much homework is given to learners”. “There is no time for relaxation”. The comment about too much homework resulted in a consultative meeting between the learners and educator where the issue of homework as well as classwork was discussed. An agreement was reached that the school would develop a homework time table that would stipulate the number of homework to be given a day. And class monitors would ensure that no less or more homework as given a day. The homework issue later led to other consultative meetings that helped to improve relations among the school management team, school governing body, leaners and the fact that all the stakeholders were listened to, made a huge difference in human resource management. Most of the issues that would have led to problems were avoided. This taught me that listening to people as they complain is helpful in improving management in general. Another thorny issue was that girls were forced to cut their hair short whilst they wanted to grow their hair because they wanted “to look good” during weekends. Learners voiced their complaints by writing them on scraps of cardboard and then hanging these publicly for me to see, as I was mostly the one to arrive first in the morning. On the first day, I did not show other teachers what I had found, but as the week went by, the messages grew stronger, and threats to my life and those of other teachers became part of the writings. I then called a staff meeting and read the messages to them. Some were so amazed and shocked that they applied for sick leave immediately and left. Out of a staff of ten educators, only three, including me, remained at school.
Learners who were willing to learn more especially the grade elevens started accusing the lower grades for being the leaders in all sorts of unruly behaviour. This division, and the inability of the few educators in the staff to control the learners, led to more disruption up to the point that I had to hand over the keys to the school committee chairperson and the school was closed. As educators we were not prepared to see our learners destroying their future or be party to them destroying their future. We educators made it clear that we were only prepared to help them to be better people. At the time of the unrest we as educator were then a solid team and worked on eradicating disturbances on our work.
We [educators] were then called to the then circuit office to explain our position. There were suspicions that we as educators are at fault, but we were found not guilty, and were asked to reopen the school a week after it was closed. In the first meeting we had with the community and learners, the parents plainly admitted their failure to control their children .Parents said so as the strike was new in a school in their area and some of the unruly learners overreacted and showed behavior that was unknown in the community. For me it was not new as I was from an area where ‘toyi toyi’- rioting had become the norm before the dawn of democracy in the Republic of South Africa. Because of the statement, ‘…of admitted their failure to control their children’ we as educators willingly said we were prepared to assist those learners who wanted to come to our school and held no grudge because we believed that the learners’ actions were a sign that they needed our guidance. I politely asked the parents to leave the school premises. I asked learners to go to their respective classes. I asked teachers to go to teach and whichever learner wished to leave the school, was welcome to do if they so wished. After that teaching and learning resumed as normal with minor hiccups. I now see that the litter incidents at the Dram Aide closing function plus the unruly behaviour that led to the one week closure of the school, were necessary ills for the community, learners as well as educators, for the following year there was peace and tranquility in the school and most of those who had ulterior motives left the school with minimal fuss. In retrospect I am gratefully aware that my leadership then at Mthusi was respected and effective. Sadly, this is no longer always the case, particularly when trade unions and politicians use the schools as their political battlegrounds. Wright sums this situation up in:
Leadership as the moral and value underpinning for the direction of schools is being removed from those who work there. It is now very substantially located at the political level where it is not available for contestation, modification or adjustment of local variations. (Wright, 2001:280, cited by Gold, 2003:130) Wright alerts us to the fact that the effective management of schools is frequently undermined by political conditions and interference. It is worth noting that politics is part of education as, education promotes the will of the ruling government that is sometimes rebelled against, as the society sees anarchy and disregard of the masses being prevalent. Power of the masses then lies in their revolt as a cry for order and prosperity.
We at Mthusi were facing situation that Freira asserts that:
“No pedagogy which is truly liberating can remain distant from the oppressed by treating them as unfortunates and by presenting for their emulation models from among the oppressors. The oppressed must be their own example in the struggle for their redemption (Freira, 1970:54)” I say so because as educators we were viewed as collaborators of the regime that was at a liminal stage or transition from oppression to liberation. I viewed that something that was not entirely correct as both the learners and educators we were under the same Apartheid regime. The difference was only the levels at which we were operation as learners and educators. That notion made us to be considerate as we knew what lay ahead for the uneducated blacks in South Africa then, as life is difficult even for the educated, due to a high unemployment rate.
After the riot we enjoyed great support from the parents as well as the student as they saw that we as educators had their interest at heart. They were then willing to share with us their personal problems and we provide support where we could. Visitors from Natal Technikon came to our school in 2001 and among other things they asked us as educators as to what was it that we thought caused our school not to perform to our expectation. Because there was no running water in the Shobeni area, we told our visitors that late coming was caused by learners having to wake early to stand in long queues for water, which they then had to carry long distances before coming to school. It is from this conversation that we educators engaged in a research project so as to assist the community to get running water.
The project took four days of walking in the community going from homestead to homestead asking questions. After finishing the project we approached the Inkosi of the area who was amazed at our dedication and concern about the community’s and learners’ suffering. Our efforts paid off because as I write, the community and the school are now enjoying fresh and clean water that is a result of the effort of the educators. The community was proud of the school as a source of an improved quality of life. The school had also more than five members of the community who were employed as general assistants, administration officer and some are educators. In addition to helping with the water project, Natal Technikon now known as Durban University of Technology, donated books that were used for the formation of a school library, as there was none before.
Developments and Successes
The school had numerous National Senior Certificate presentations. The first presentation was 82, 44 percent followed by two 100 percent passed, and four 95 percent passes and after this I was then promoted as Governance and Management Coordinator. What is pleasing is that the school has not had any result below 80 percent and there is a marked improvement in the quality of results compared to my tenure.
The school had a popular yearly cultural day that was the highlight of the school day as well as speech and prize giving day. These days bring joy to the community because they provide free entertainment. These activities have unearthed hidden talent from both the educators and learners as organisers, poets, song writers, reciters, dancers, cooks, program directors. The activities have also enabled learners to travel as they present their activities in research days and other occasions linked with Universities, for example Durban University of Technology.
In addition to the developments the school enjoyed popularity and learners as far as a thousand kilometers enrolled at the school as they were guaranteed of a pass as long as they worked hard. The school won several trophies in soccer and netball. The school also won a prize for neatness of premises and as the head master was awarded a certificate for best leadership in UGu District in 1997.
I can attribute our success to three aspects of development, among many, that is educators’ further education through Open Distance Learning, the Constitution of South Africa of 1996 as well as the South African Schools Act of 1996 that gave us clear direction as we moved to the democratic era with its new demands that led to discarding a lot of old modes of governance, management and leadership.
As I rethink of our success I believe schon’s asserting about a learning system makes sense as our success was due to our efforts as stakeholders to revamp as system that was depleted by years of skewed type of education. I believe that we as a learning system transformed as Schon says:
“A learning system … must be one in which dynamic conservatism operates at such a level and in such a way as to permit change of state without intolerable threat to the essential functions of the system fulfills for the self. Our systems need to maintain their identity, and ability to support the self-identity of those who belong to them, but thy must at the same time be capable of transforming themselves.” (Schon, 1973:57)
In my view the strike at school was a necessary event that removed divisions and brought about a sense of belonging as an essential function for every system that aims to achieve success. Respect-inhlonipho of the system and its functionaries that is based on among other aspects respect of the vision, mission, policy, creation and management of structures, implementation, follow up and remedy of shortfalls are a prerequisite for success.
My Farewell function
My Farewell function was held four months after my promotion to the new post. I still cherish words of gratitude, reflections on my character and things that I did mostly humorous ones, my willfulness, my sympathy and many other aspects of my life and activities that the speeches of the day revealed. I can honestly say that my farewell function made me to understand who I was as portrayed by the people that I spent eleven years of my life with as a head master. The farewell function made me a better person as I saw some of my bad characteristics. My farewell function became a miniature Johari window [a technique that helps people better understand themselves and others] of my character. It offered me other perspectives of my character that I did not know. I then realized that my management style was both responsive-reactional and initiative- proactive (Van der Westhuizen, 1991:653) as it was controlled by the demands of the situation.
Upon reflection I now see that as blacks in Republic of South Africa we were suppressed and the type of education we were given was purposefully made to be inferior. (Gumede, 2011:21) cites Doctor Hendrik Verwoerd when he introduced Bantu Education in Parliament in 1953.
I just want to remind the Honourable Members of Parliament that if the native South African is being taught to expect that he will lead his adult life under the hope of equal rights, he is making a big mistake. The native must not be
subject to education system which draws him away from his own community, and misleads him in showing him the green pastures of European society in which he is not allowed to graze
The Apartheid government provided education that Said would have described as “the synchronic panoptical vision of domination” http://prelectur.stanford,edu/lectures/bhabha/mimicry.html an education that kept watch at the development of the blacks and other racial groups to the government’s standards. Fortunately in 1996 Bantu Education was replaced by a uniform type of education that was no longer discriminatory with one Department of Education. Teaching in rural schools in Republic of South Africa (RSA) was a challenge that broke my heart almost every day. What I learnt at teacher training school with almost most facilities available such as all necessary textbooks, made me to realize the inferior type of education that I had from Sub-standard A to Form V(Grade 1 to 12). As an educator I learned to improvise. There are two valuable instances that made my teaching valuable and pleasing. The first one was when I had no textbooks to teach English for my Standard 8/Grade ten of two hundred learners. The learner made a financial contribution and I bought copies of a local newspaper South Coast Herald. The copies of the local newspaper became our grammar and language texts.
The following year I had to teach grade elevens with no textbooks. I then asked the head master to make photocopies from a short story book. I then used the one page that learners had for three months teaching all aspects of the language curriculum. I later realized that I had applied Outcomes Based Education strategies long before its inception in the Republic of South Africa. I therefore pat myself at the back for my achievements as a learner, an educator and a head master. I sometimes ask myself whether I would have been a teacher had my education been as education is in the Republic of South Africa these days.
I understand that living theory development is not an isolated learning but happens as one plays and work. Life experiences and daily performances that an educator or a professional engages in is the very context in which living theory is nurtured. To newly-‐employed educators my sincere advice is that like any other performance teaching is a continuous learning practice. Challenges in teaching are not a curse but they are just hurdles that need your commitment as an educator and they are surmountable when one focuses on success. I converted my challenges to content for my doctoral thesis and I hope I will continually fish and re-‐mine the challenges for future use.
Every school day or encounter with learners offers an educator fertile context for growth and development. I would also encourage all educators to keep in mind as an educator one may not be well paid but is in a wealthy situation in accumulating knowledge that other people need. I consider every day as a research opportunity that can be turned to valuable knowledge.
This article has also made me to rethink about a General Science lesson that I had at the age of fifteen. The lesson was: To determine whether matter occupies space. This lesson has had a profound influence in my life for numerous reasons that are:
• It was my first lesson in General Science in English as my primary education was in IsiZulu,
• It taught me a way of thinking that was never presented tome before that is: [in this article I view the following]
Aim- How and when was my management style developed?
Apparatus- looking at my upbringing, management styles of my principals as a learner and a teacher and my experiences.
Method(s) - application of Reflection, Narrative Method, and Living Theory methods
Observation- looking at my upbringing, management styles of my principals as a learner and a teacher.
Inference- putting together incidents to reach my conclusion
Conclusion- my management style and work was developed through observation of at my upbringing, management styles of my principals as a learner and a teacher and my experiences.
I have noticed that this article is a depiction of the procedure that I learnt from that experiment. Not only have I noted this in my article but I now realize that the experiment became a way of constructing a way of thinking that is essential in problem solving.
In all my academic career, professional career, my Master of Arts and Doctoral research I found the thinking from that experiment very useful and still useful as I rethink about it in this article.
I have decided to write about this as a way of saying that teachers need not look down upon their work. A lesson well-presented can be a blessing to a learner therefore teachers should be proud of what they do. Thanks to my passed on teacher Mrs. Peteni.
In this article I have outlined how I started teaching after a two year junior secondary teachers training at Amanzimtoti Zulu Training School. How the training school was as a reflection of the Apartheid era that emphasized ethnicity as a means of entrenching the Apartheid policy of the National Party regime. I also gave an account of what my ambitions were towards completion of the teachers’ course as the training school introduced a three year course. Why I wanted to enroll for the third when there were third year students in 1984. I explain the reason that was given as a reason for refusing me admission to the third year of study. I have given my disappointment when I could not enroll and my reason for disappointment.
In this paper I have dispelled my illusion and demonstrated how and when my living theory was developed. I recount how I successfully managed a rural high school with meager resources despite my two year training as a teacher? I did this through personal reflection, by defining what living theory is, and how my living theory was developed. I have provided discourse of my narrative as an example of a living theory practice. I have given an account of my first school visit to the new school, learners’ attitude/my attitude, educators’ attitude and the Department of Education’s contribution, parental contribution, developments, successes and my farewell function. I then reflected on education in general, teaching in rural schools in the Republic of South Africa, living theory and gave a word of advice to newly-employed educators and a conclusion of the article.
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g Theory Development of Black African (Zulu) Male Educ
• It was my first lesson in General Science in English as my whole primary education
• It taught me a way of thinking that was never presented to me before that is :[