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A tale of twelve teachers: education and democratisation in Russia and South Africa

By Michele Schweisfurth

Abstract

This study explores primary school teachers' experiences of the changes that have occurred in education since the end of apartheid in South Africa and the end of communist rule in Russia. It outlines the national educational contexts and critically examines the nature and implementation of new policies in these two 'transitologies'. International literature on teacher responses to educational reform and on the potential of schooling to be democratic and to develop democracy in society is explored as background to the study.\ud \ud The research is based on two periods of field work in each country, between 1996 and 1998. In the second phase, case studies were developed of six Russian and six South African teachers, incorporating lesson observation and interviews about their life histories, educational experiences, classroom practice, and attitudes toward the educational reforms.\ud \ud The findings, based on the individual case studies and a cross-case analysis, reveal that teachers experience a range of 'competing imperatives' which make a coherent perspective and consistent practice difficult, even where teachers agree in spirit with the reforms. Their responses to these dilemmas depend on a number of individual and contextual factors, many of them arising from the personal life experiences of the teacher. For each, the construction of a coherent self-identity, despite the scope of the changes experienced, has been an important part of the process of transition

Topics: LB, JC
OAI identifier: oai:wrap.warwick.ac.uk:2832

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