|Who Becomes a Primary School Teacher in Lesotho: Characteristics and Experiences of the DEP Student Teachers upon Entry into NTTC (CIE, 2002, 49 p.)|
|Chapter 4: Conclusion|
The analysis of data from this study show that there were very powerful memories of good and bad experiences of primary schooling, as well as strong opinions held about teachers who teach at this level. Broadly speaking, student teachers comments refer more to personal aspects than to professional ones with regard to the role of a teacher. Hence the need to have both male and female teachers in the school system.
The comments provided by the student teachers tend to portray an image of the teacher as a parent. Related to this image emerged others that are closely linked to it. These include teachers who are fair, friendly, patient and firm. Teachers who act like parents at this level of the education system are probably a necessity. The role model of good parenting should therefore be built into the college curriculum.
Further grouping of responses suggest that some respondents have an image of a teacher who appears to act as a social role model. They used words such as a teacher who is well behaved, who is polite and a teacher who dresses well. There were in this category of images other attributes, which could be linked to the social role. These include a teacher who is flexible, sociable, thoughtful and reliable. Teacher education should work on this strong image too. Teachers in our culture have always played this role of social worker in areas where one teaches. Relating to society must therefore form part of the college curriculum.
From the student teachers responses it became clear that in as far as the professional role of a teacher is concerned, they had an image of a teacher who is able to explain the content clearly. The understanding here is that such a teacher would be having in mind the fact that students should understand what was being taught. There is also an indication that a professional teacher is one who paid enough attention to individual students, especially those who seemed to be slow learners. Interestingly, it became clear that a good teacher is the one who uses punishment appropriately.
Related to the image of a teacher as a professional is that of a teacher who has an effect on the learners. There was an indication that a good teacher is one who does something to or for his/her pupils. Respondents described teachers who helped their pupils achieve good results as good and therefore professional teachers. Teachers who had an ability to encourage their students to aspire for further education and advised them accordingly were described as teachers who had an effect on their pupils. In essence what seems to emerge from the submissions about a teacher who tends to influence students in positive ways is that good teachers may have contributed to career choices. The career guidance course needs to capture this notion. Teachers need skills to help student in choosing careers. The College might demonstrate this by inviting guest speakers of different professional backgrounds to give job talks.
Although images of good teachers indicate very positive things about teachers, there seems to be a gap with regard to the academic ability of good teachers. Student teachers, other than just indicating that good teachers explain well, do not seem to have much to say about teachers subject knowledge or expertise. That the image of a good teacher as expert is missing might suggest that at primary school level, students look for images of parents more than an expert instructor. It is incumbent upon the College to make sure that the value of knowing ones content and being an expert teacher is brought to the students attention, especially by the content courses as well as the education course.
One impression emerging from the preceding conclusions is that students have a strong tendency to say they are going to model themselves on good teachers who taught them. The memories of good teachers and the desire to emulate them were very powerful. However, it looked as though the college also had some socialising effect, in that students responses indicated that some of them were explicitly trying to integrate their new knowledge into their vision of themselves as future teachers. This means that some college theories are beginning to be absorbed by the student teachers. Additionally, it was apparent that the personal and the professional characteristics are closely linked in the student teachers minds. For them, the person you are affects what you do in class. Very clearly, integrating what student teachers enter with into the college curriculum has a place. It is a matter of taking advantage of the programme rationale, which advocates dialogue to help students connect their experiences with the college theories and practices.
Developing themes around images of bad teachers proved difficult, in that student teachers descriptions of such teachers were not as varied as those of good teachers, and they were more or less mirror-image of the good teachers. However, the main theme was that of the teacher who used excessive corporal punishment. The best that the NTTC can do is to weed out bad images of teachers. This could be achieved in many ways. For example, combining ethical issues in teaching with inviting guest speakers from centres such as the Thaba Bosiu Rehabilitation Centre meant for alcoholic inmates could be built into the programme.
The description of a teacher who was too sociable was captured in personality traits. The findings show that such teachers were known for drunkenness and smoking in the classroom. The descriptions further show that such teachers were unfair, practised corporal punishment, used abusive language and that they were not particular about personal appearance.
An image of an unprofessional teacher appears to be that of a teacher who punished students. It would seem that a teacher who does not explain clearly, who did not help slow learners and who did not allow free interaction in his classroom, was considered, a poor professional. Related to this image is the effects on pupils. The findings show that students who were scared to stay in school might have been affected by those teachers who were unprofessional and perhaps harsh.
On the issue of life at the College, the findings show that the student teachers found the College facilities conducive to their learning. They expressed hope that change in education would also come as a result of proper facilities. In other words, the memory they had of primary schools was that the facilities at this level are poor. That they had picked this issue as one of the critical ones suggests that they would like to work in improved facilities.
Regarding the social context, an analysis of the public view as evidenced in the interview with representatives of Parents in Education Association and as confirmed by the student teachers themselves, is that there are many demands on teachers. From the point of view of parents, teachers are responsible for the type of student that is produced by the school system. Demands as interpreted by the student teachers who participated in this investigation differ slightly from those of the other respondents. According to the representative of parents, schooling has to go beyond routine work. The challenges in their opinion are of a wide range. For example, impressions from interviewing the Parents in Education Association are that education standards are deteriorating mainly because of the type of teacher education provided by the NTTC. There probably is need on the part of the college to investigate national issues about the type of teacher produced by NTTC.