Meta-theoretical underpinnings of human rights in the intermediate phase Life Skills curriculum
Verster, Maria Charlotte
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Human rights education is a much-investigated area of research; however, what teachers understand about human rights and the Life Skills explicit, enacted and supplementary curriculum seems to be vague. The vagueness related to the understanding of human rights emanated from multiple understandings of human rights that could be adhered to. Meta-theoretical underpinnings for the understanding of human rights have been discussed in the human rights body of scholarship. These meta-theoretical underpinnings of human rights were philosophically clustered to develop an analytical construct to guide this inquiry. This inquiry was focused on a contribution regarding teachers’ understanding of human rights education to augment the infusion of a human rights culture in diverse educational contexts. This inquiry was done, firstly, to explore the [in]consistencies between the meta-theoretical underpinnings of human rights and how they were reflected in the explicit, enacted and supplementary curriculum. Secondly, it was to explore how these influenced the way in which human rights were enacted in the curriculum. These consistencies and inconsistencies were deemed to be important because they affect the way human rights are understood and dealt with in the classroom directly. The aims of the research were to determine the meta-theoretical underpinnings of human rights in the intermediate phase Life Skills explicit, enacted and supplementary curriculum; the language(s) that emerged regarding the meta-theoretical underpinnings of human rights in the Life Skills enacted curriculum; and how the enacted and supplementary curriculum of human rights were influenced by teachers’ understandings of the meta-theoretical underpinnings. A qualitative study situated in an interpretivist paradigm was undertaken, using a shadowing methodology. Participants were purposefully selected. Data were generated by means of a document analysis as data generation strategy of the National Curriculum Statement Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement document, as well as the accompanying learning study materials, classroom observations through silent shadowing and a semi-structured one-on-one interview with each teacher. Data were analysed by means of discourse analysis. It was empirically found that the supplementary curriculum directly related to the explicit curriculum. The enacted curriculum revealed consistencies and inconsistencies within the explicit curriculum. Regarding teachers’ understanding of the explicit Life Skills curriculum, it was found that the teachers participating in this inquiry experienced limitations and restrictions regarding their own interpretations of the explicitly provided curriculum. Even when the teachers understood human rights slightly differently from the explicit and supplementary curriculum, they still only enacted what was provided in the explicit curriculum. My recommendations highlight the need to inquire about the way(s) in which teachers could be effectively supported by the Life Skills curriculum in terms of human rights enactment. A future essential study should inquire about the responsibility of each teacher with regard to human rights education and the ethical implications and considerations thereof.
- Education