Teacher questions and interaction patterns in the new and old curriculum : a case study.
The new curriculum in South Africa encourages a shift from the traditional ways of teaching and learning to more interactive approaches. The idea of learning has been redefined, with the focus on how and why children construct meaning. Learning occurs through reasoning and teachers and learners can stimulate reasoning through questions and interaction patterns. Knowledge is constructed in a social context and speech is instrumental in mediating meaning (Vygotsky, 1978). In 2006, the new curriculum was introduced in grade 10, while the old curriculum was still being taught in grade 11. In this study I took this opportunity to explore the differences in teaching supported by the two curricula. A qualitative research methodology and case study method was used to explore the extent to which one teacher in his grade 10 and grade 11 lessons promoted reasoning in his questions and interaction patterns. Data was collected by means of classroom observation with field notes, video recording and a teacher interview. This research shows that the different curricular afford different broad curricular settings (group work and whole class interaction) as an expectation of the new curriculum. However the question types coded for both grades were very similar and did not promote reasoning. Two patterns of interaction emerged within the data: “funneling” and “leading through a method”. Both patterns are in IRE/F form but look different from each other. This research adds to other research that indicates that teachers are not clear as to how to generate genuine classroom discussion that promotes reasoning. In the light of the new curriculum, the development of new practices will take time, as change cannot occur immediately. The challenge for teacher education is to understand the changes that teachers are making, in order to develop ways of facilitating the process.