Application of teachers’ philosophies on literacy teaching and learning in rural schools
The aim of this study is to explore the teachers’ philosophies in literacy teaching at rural primary schools in South Africa. Studies show that South African primary school learners’ literacy skills and abilities are significantly below the norm for their age and grade. One-on-one, semi-structured interviews are employed to elicit responses from eight primary school teachers in the Foundation Phase. The data were thematically analysed to isolate certain themes which showed how teachers taught literacy. The findings revealed a range of teachers’ personal philosophies. Teachers demonstrated different beliefs or philosophies of how they taught literacy. It was important in this study to synthesise a conceptual framework by drawing upon (i) Vygotsky’s pioneering work on mediation pertaining to the teachers’ role, and (ii) Freire’s theory on constructivism emphasising learner-centred education. This article concludes and suggests that if teachers are made aware of their personal theories and assumptions about teaching literacy, their tuition may become more innovative, creative and rewarding. They may come to realise that knowledge is constructed between learners and teachers. If literacy teachers are liberated in this way, they can adjust their literacy teaching to the social and intellectual backgrounds of their learners, and learners can come to identify with the literacy lessons to become truly literate.