Academic journal article Journal of Social Sciences

How Does a Culture of Learning Impact on Student Behaviour?

Academic journal article Journal of Social Sciences

How Does a Culture of Learning Impact on Student Behaviour?

Article excerpt

Abstract: Problem statement: Despite the need for a culture of learning in South African schools, research reveal that it is not generally encountered. Research also indicates the manifestation of student behavior problems constraining effective learning. Approach: This research study was directed at determining if a link existed between behavior problems and a lack of a culture of learning. The research approach adopted constituted a literature study and a qualitative based, narrative inquiry at a school within a traditionally disadvantaged community. The literature study was undertaken to gain an understanding of the concept "culture of learning" and its impact as a behavioral determinant. Caring schools as a means to address the problem formed part of the study. Results: Important research findings relate to the correlation between characteristics that give rise to behavioral problems and those associated with a lack of a culture of learning, the role played by "caring schools" in nurturing a culture of learning and the importance of addressing students' emotional needs for dealing with behavioral problems. Conclusion: The significance of the research is the guidelines proposed for dealing with behavior problems by establishing a culture of learning. Recommended is in-service training of all key stakeholders in the dynamics of establishing a culture of learning and the realization of learner's unmeet emotional needs.

Key words: Behavioral problems, increasing occurrence, provides guidelines, currently available, important findings emanating, traditionally disadvantaged


South African research studies reflect a decline of a culture of learning in schools (Pillay, 1998; Ngidi and Qwabe, 2010; Niemann and Kotze, 2006; Kruger, 2003; Matoti, 2010). Various causative factors are mentioned, ranging from the legacy of "apartheid" to stakeholders such as parents, teachers and students, not collaborating to establish such a culture (Christie, 2010; Roy, 2007). So for instance Deventer and Kruger (2002) claim that "one of the most important issues that faces education in South African schools today, is the restoration of a sound culture of learning and teaching. The majority of schools continue to reflect characteristics of a poor culture of learning and teaching". Haystack and Lethoko (2001) similarly argue that "one of the main goals in education today, in South Africa, is to restore the culture of learning and teaching in schools with the net result of improving examination results in the matriculation (school leaving) examination and the general standard of education". It is within the context of this reality that former South African President Mbeki (1997) urged educational institutions and teachers to "ensure that the culture of learning and teaching is developed in institutions and schools".

Research undertaken by Pillay (1998) reveals that the majority of schools, of the former education departments responsible for Black education in South Africa, is characterized by a high failure rate, a lack of discipline, low morale and an anti academic attitude amongst students. The researcher goes on to claim that the situation has little changed since South Africa became a democratic dispensation in 1994 and the ongoing turmoil encountered in these schools is underscored by a failure to establish a culture of learning within the schools concerned (Pillay, 1998). The destructive social impact of unemployment, poverty, crime and violence within the communities concerned is considered to play a role in shaping the cultural context that exists within the schools and consequently hamper the establishment of a culture of learning within the classroom and school (Pillay, 1998).

Academic performance seems to have become the yardstick by which the existence of a "culture of learning" in schools is measured. This fact is illustrated by the following comments on the matriculation results (school leaving examination) of 2010: Yeld (2011), at the University of Cape Town, pointed out that "the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga has been careful in the phrasing of all her statements about the pass rate. …

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