Experimenting with a reconciliation pedagogy in South African primary school history classrooms: Constraints and possibilities
In the South African context, the need for peacebuilding is sometimes not acknowledged in a post-conf lict society, although there are ongoing everyday examples within the educational sphere that challenge this assumption. A way of addressing the need for peacebuilding in education is via a reconciliation pedagogy, which uses oral history tasks and cooperative learning in the history curriculum. By drawing on the similarities and differences between a reconciliation pedagogy, and reconciliation as articulated by the ‘4R’ framework for peacebuilding, this article shows that there are constraints and possibilities inherent in this process at school level. The main argument is that there are a number of practical constraints within and beyond the classroom which hinder peacebuilding in practice.
Using a method of narrative inquiry, this article focuses on the results of the research conducted by a history teacher educator who observed and interviewed eight teachers in history primary school classrooms in Johannesburg. While some of the successes of using a reconciliation pedagogy show that it has the potential to facilitate peacebuilding from the ‘bottom up’, teachers’ intentions and how they implement a reconciliation pedagogy affect whether or not sustainable peacebuilding is possible in the classroom.
Keywords: Peacebuilding, Reconciliation pedagogy, ‘4R’ framework, Oral history, Cooperative learning, Primary school history teachers, History education