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South African Journal of Education

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How teachers of English in South African schools recognise their change agency

Ansurie Pillay

Abstract


The South African Council for Educators’ Code of Professional Ethics requires teachers to help learners develop values consistent with the fundamental rights contained in the Constitution of South Africa. To engage with such rights, teachers need to have the agency to develop such values, and this article explores how teachers of English in South African schools recognise (or fail to recognise) their change agency. Using a qualitative, interpretivist approach with narrative inquiry, twenty-two teacher-researchers were tasked with listening to the stories of teachers of English in order to answer the research question: do teachers consider themselves to be agents of change in their English classrooms? While the findings indicate that some teachers fail to enact agency, other teachers, despite claiming otherwise, do serve as agents of change in their classrooms. By respecting who learners are and enabling a democratic environment, teachers are able to engage with possibilities for change despite challenges. By having a clear vision of who they are as teachers, they are able to use interventions to improve the conditions for learning and make a difference to the lives of their learners.

Keywords: change agency; democracy; empowerment; teachers of English




http://dx.doi.org/10.15700/saje.v37n3a1296
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