Support of Student Teachers Towards Functioning in an Inclusive Classroom: Development of a South African Living Theory
In all schools throughout the world learners display diverse characteristics and ways of learning. Especially in South Africa learners come from different cultural, social and economic backgrounds, causing different and diverse learning needs. The restructuring of education in South Africa in White Paper 6 (2001), resulted in the adoption of an inclusive education policy across the country. Inclusive education in South Africa aims to establish an educational system whereby all children are able to learn and progress according to their own potential within the mainstream classrooms. This implies that the curriculum and pedagogy will have to be adapted to meet the diverse needs of the learners. In addition, schools require suitable support mechanisms to enable teachers to appropriately meet the needs of all learners. This paper focuses on the education of the student teachers who would be expected to provide the support to the learners in the various classrooms they are based. An action research approach was used where I as a teacher educator reflected on my practice to determine whether I lived up to my educational values of “care and support”. This is done to establish whether my student teachers developed the attributes they would need if they want to support their diverse learners in an inclusive classroom. The paper reports further on how I have created a living theory on the development of educational values which are needed to support diverse learners.
Keywords: Living Theory, Inclusive Education, Teacher Education, Teacher Support., Social Just Society
Dr. Christo Pienaar
Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Education