Life orientation lecturers' experiences of sexuality education: implications for curriculum development
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Sexuality education is multifaceted and comprises themes on health, physical sexual behaviour, sexual diversity, and gender, power and relationships. In South Africa, it can be argued that sexuality education is not being optimally implemented due to barriers. Three of these barriers have been the lack of training and guidelines for sexuality education teachers, conflict of personal and community values juxtaposed to the expectations of curricula, and stigmas attached to sexuality education teachers by the community and other stakeholders. Teacher training has been suggested as a vehicle through which student-teachers and Life Orientation (LO) lecturers can address these barriers. For this reason, it was deemed necessary for this research study to explore LO lecturers' experience of teaching sexuality education. This research study explored the experiences of LO sexuality education lecturers in terms of what constitutes sexuality education and how they experience teaching sexuality education. As this is a research study in the field of Curriculum Studies, thinking anew for curriculum development of sexuality education was a primary focus. By unlocking lecturers' experiences through a phenomenological methodological approach and an interpretivistic paradigmatic lens, this became possible. As this research study formed part of a larger NRF-funded project, I employed convenience and purposive sampling to identify participants for the semi-structured one-on-one interviews. Inductive content analysis was used to reveal the essence of the LO lecturers' response to their experiences. To explore what constitutes sexuality education, I engaged with the scholarly literature on values-based curricula as one of the theoretical perspectives underpinning LO, sexuality education from both an international and national perspective, and curriculum development of sexuality education from multiple critical theory perspectives. This enabled me to conceptualise critical curriculum development perspectives for sexuality education. The findings and interpretations derived from the empirical data revealed that sexuality education focuses on the holistic development of learners through creative and innovative hands-on pedagogical strategies. However, a challenge faced by some lecturers and student-teachers is a lack of resource materials specific to the South African context. Further challenges faced are limitations that religious, cultural and societal taboos bring to their classrooms. Nevertheless, the lecturers continue to empower their students, community and themselves. The concluding chapter captures what Life Orientation lecturers' experiences of sexuality education reveal for developing critical curricula. Six reflective statements emerged: the (im)possibility of a comprehensive sexuality education curriculum; to abstain or not to abstain should that be the dominant approach?; empowering student-teachers with 21st century skills; taboos, prejudices and stigmas hindering the optimal teaching and learning of sexuality education; possible implications for curriculum development of sexuality education; the national Life Orientation debate… Where do we go from here? The dissertation concludes by highlighting possible limitations and suggestions for further research.
- Education