When stories about the country’s teachers make their way to the newspapers or posters on light poles, they are often disturbing and discouraging headlines of misconduct or negligence, and rightfully so as education and the teaching profession remain in dire dysfunction.
But a new generation of teachers is beginning to emerge, aiming to redefine and rebrand the profession.
These aspiring teachers reflect critically on each other’s work and themselves to develop effective teaching methods and the necessary personal capacity to thrive in the reality of today’s classrooms.
Their values are clear, and they are expressed often: develop oneself, collaborate and share, put the child at the centre, reflect constantly and use the classroom to build a better world.
What distinguishes this emerging set of teacher standards from others is the emphasis on personal accountability as opposed to the compliance culture that has overwhelmed the profession.
A young teacher from Maxeke Secondary School who teaches Physical Sciences says that he chose to teach the subject after a realisation of the poor performance of South Africa in Maths and Science subjects; hence he wanted to make a difference.
“Seeing those learners you teach pursuing their studies at University level is what drives me”, says Thato Mojakisane, Physics teacher at Maxeke Secondary School
What makes learning and teaching also more interesting has been the introduction of technology as well.
“Teaching with technology makes life easy for the educator and saves times, you can plan lessons wherever you are, just type your lesson, download videos, images and you don’t have to waste writing notes on the board and drawing diagrams. Learners can see clearly what you talking about rather than imagining them, “he adds.
The new generation of teachers understand that being an educator doesn’t mean you have to act all strict towards learners and reject changes that are happening around us, but to form a relationship with learners.
At an age that can feel bewildering, these aspiring teachers have claimed a mantle that forces all of us to ask ourselves whether we are part of the new or the old story of education: the old story being teacher-centred, individually oriented, competitive and compliant and the new being learner-focused, community- and socially minded, collaborative and challenging.