|Teacher Education for Transformation: The Case of the University of the Western Cape, South Africa (CIE, 2002, 73 p.)|
|Chapter 3: The curriculum of the HDE programme|
The following extract from the Course Outline 2000 of the HDE programme clearly spells out the responsibilities of the student teachers on the programme:
The course is based on a conception of learning which is different from that which you experienced at school or even university in your undergraduate study. It places the responsibility for learning on YOU, the student. You are expected to spend a substantial portion of your study time on independent learning (Course Outline 2000, p.8).
Due to the emphasis on independent learning the course designers of the Education Theory component of the programme have provided student teachers with course materials in the form of compulsory readings and exercises appropriate to the particular module theme. The modules have been put together by the lecturers of the respective courses.
As the student teachers are expected to spend a major portion of their learning time on the modules, the organisation of the modules must be clear and easy to follow. All the six Education Theory modules are organised differently according to the taste of the individual lecturers who have put them together. For an outside reader, there appears to be a lack of uniformity and consistency in the organisation of the modules. For instance, one module may give student teachers a brief summary of the various sections in the module, the questions they need to reflect upon and suggested further reading. This overview at the beginning of the module will help to give student teachers a clear idea of what to expect in the readings and the area they need to focus on. On the other hand, other modules only state the general aims and contents page at the beginning, with no clear indication of what the student teachers need to focus on in each reading and very little guidance in the form of questions for the student teachers to reflect on. This may distract student teachers from the need to read carefully and focus on the vital message in the readings.
One of the criticisms that can perhaps be levelled at the course, and particularly the theory courses, is that students do not have to read outside of the course readers in order to pass the course. This is due to a number of factors which include the fact that the university library has an inadequate collection of books on education, particularly more recent books. In fact, no new books were bought at all in education over the 1998-1999 period due to severe budgetary constraints in the library budget. In addition, due to the large classes, students were not required to write assignments for the theory classes and thus were not forced to read anything other than the course reader. In addition, no prescribed books were used due to the poor financial position of most of the students. It was generally assumed by lecturers that students could not afford to buy books. A number of lecturers have expressed grave concern about the fact that many of the HDE students pass through their university years without ever having had to read a whole book for their coursework and that this practice is continued in the HDE course. This results in a student teachers who are used to having all their notes given to them in the form of handouts and with poor skills to actually search for relevant material and a poor wider general knowledge. This will inevitably lead to difficulties in teaching according to the new curriculum, in which teachers are permitted and encouraged to use resources that they find for themselves. In addition, they should have a wide general knowledge in order to make the links between their subject method and other subject methods and between what they are teaching and what is happening outside of the school.