The challenges and limitations of developing a "reconciliatory pedagogy" using oral history with South African pre-service and in-service history teachers.

Nussey, Reville Jess
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This thesis concerns the challenges and limitations of developing a conception of a “reconciliatory pedagogy”. As a history methodology lecturer at the University of the Witwatersrand, I noticed that relationships among students were polarised. But during the course of an oral history and cooperative learning assignment with second year students, I observed a shift in relationships among some of the students. This started my journey towards conceptualising a “reconciliatory pedagogy”, which addresses the difficult issue of how we reweave relationships in the South African history lecture/classroom, given our torrid past. The methodology used in this thesis is narrative inquiry. I have used this approach to consider the meaning of reconciliation from different perspectives and contexts: the literature on reconciliation, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in South Africa, and in practice with some history methodology students and history primary school teachers. John Paul Lederach’s (1997, 1999) images of reconciliation were key ideas literature that informed my conception of a reconciliatory pedagogy. He developed his dynamic ideas on reconciliation during his international attempts at peace-making, and I explored whether these ideas could be applied to the South African context of the history lecture/classroom. The TRC started the process of reconciliation in 1996, but everyday events continue to demonstrate the on-going lack of reconciliation in South Africa. A “reconciliatory pedagogy” aimed to take forward some aspects of the TRC, such as students/learners finding out more about the recent South African past via oral history interviews, and encouraging dialogue about this difficult past between the different generations. The use of cooperative learning strategies facilitated further dialogue about this past among the students/learners, where they shared “their” oral histories during a joint task, and in some cases engaged in Lederach’s (1999) “dance” of reconciliation. By interviewing history students/teachers, and through classroom observations, the successes and limitations of my conception of a “reconciliatory pedagogy” emerged. The results of the above process encouraged reflection about the education of history student teachers: it suggested the need for a more theory-based approach to their education via a critique of Lederach’s model of reconciliation and oral history in a “reconciliatory pedagogy”. A “reconciliatory pedagogy” does not claim to lead to big changes in attitudes or towards the teaching of history, but it assists in small shifts that may affect the broader project of reconciliation in South Africa.
Reconciliatory pedagogy, Reconciliation, Narrative inquiry, John Paul Lederach, Truth and reconciliation Commission (TRC), Oral history, Cooperative learning, History pedagogy for student teachers, Social justice