Self-configuration experiences of intermediate phase learners with mild learning difficulties within the learner-teacher relationship
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More often than not learners with learning difficulties are treated differently from normal mainstream learners. Often they experience themselves in a less positive manner because of the interactions with various teachers who may not always have enough patience to deal with these learners while trying to cope with large numbers of learners on a daily base. This study was conducted to explore self-configuration experiences of Intermediate Phase learners with learning difficulties within the learner-teacher relationship. Literature indicates that the self is a complex construct to define and can be interpreted in various ways. The researcher aimed to understand how the self is configured in experiences that learners have with their teachers and how these experiences contribute to and affect self-configuration. The theoretical frameworks of the Dialogical Theory of Self and the Gestalt Field Theory were used to gain an understanding of how vital relations and context are in the configuration experiences of the self. A qualitative case study with purposive sampling was conducted. The study was done at a single school where all the learners in the school have learning difficulties. There were nine learners that fell in the Intermediate Phase category and all of them were boys who voluntarily participated in the research. Data were collected by means of a semi-structured interview in which the participants were asked to use incomplete sentences and a visual map that they made to help them express their experiences. A follow-up interview was conducted to check that the meaning that the learner ascribed to his incomplete sentences and visual map was accurate and an opportunity was given to add something should the participant want to. Participants were given this opportunity as some of them had difficulty in expressing themselves adequately during the first session as a result of their learning difficulties in so much as they struggle to find words that express their feelings and what they wanted to communicate. Data were transcribed and analysed by means of thematic analysis. The study indicated that it was aspects such as quality time the teachers spent with the learners and the tone of voice of the teacher that contributed to the self-configuration experiences of the learners. Further research is necessary to determine whether this is the experience in other schools that cater for learners with learning difficulties and how this knowledge may be used to bring greater awareness to teachers to better understand how learners experience their relationship with regards to self-configuration. Quantitative studies can also be conducted to investigate the impact of teacher-learner relationships on self-configuration.
- Humanities