Germination of the seed bird :arts-education teaching methodologies in selected schools in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Watts, Janet Lindley
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This research project argues for the implementation of teaching methodologies that originate from a point of equality and democracy. I situate my research within two schools that participated in the structured arts education Kickstarter project that has been implemented since January 2015 by the South African chapter of the International Association of Theatre for Children and Young People (ASSITEJ South Africa) in the provinces of KwaZulu-Natal and the Free State. The aim of this research was to establish the nature of the change in the teaching methodologies implemented in the classroom as a result of the knowledge gained through the teachers’ participation in ASSITEJ SA’s arts-teaching methodology programme. I focussed on the methodologies that the teachers used to mediate or deliver the Creative Arts curriculum to their learners with special attention being paid to how they were able to elicit engagement and input from the learners. A detailed exploration of the writing and thinking of Jacque Rancière and Maxine Greene afforded me the opportunity to investigate the human mechanics of, and predilections for, learning and how these manifest themselves in the child and, furthermore, how they could be encouraged and optimised throughout the life of that child. I start from Rancière’s assumption that an equal intelligence is possible; each individual has something to say and this offering deserves the respect and dignity of a response. I acknowledge both that this process of giving and receiving is relevant and able to be nurtured given the right environment, and that it is of importance to attempt to rethink the role of the school in this process, given its historical, present and future context of teaching and learning. What this research asks is: If South African teachers are introduced to a methodology that allows them to imagine the idea that there are indeed positive alternatives to their often difficult current reality, can they implement those alternatives within the educational system of sometime glaring inequities within which they are working? I explore this system in detail to substantiate my findings, and propose what the role of present educational institutions and individuals and future generations of learners may be in realising the implementation of similar emancipatory methodologies of teaching and learning.
Completed as the requirement of a Master of Arts by Research through the Department of Cultural Policy and Management Wits School of the Arts University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg 2019