Academic journal article Educational Research for Social Change

On Bernstein's Sociology of Pedagogy and How It Can Inform the Pedagogic Realisation of Poor and Working-Class Children in South African Primary Maths Education

Academic journal article Educational Research for Social Change

On Bernstein's Sociology of Pedagogy and How It Can Inform the Pedagogic Realisation of Poor and Working-Class Children in South African Primary Maths Education

Article excerpt


This article illustrates the social-class assumptions in the South African primary maths education as encapsuled in the ' restructured Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statements (DBE, 2011a, 2011b). Reflecting on an earlier curriculum analysis study (Pausigere, 2014), it argues that middle-class social ideologies are dominant in the local primary maths pedagogic practices, and explains how such class-based interests can be interrupted to ensure learning for all children. Drawing from Bernste ' 9 5 98 , 1990, 2000) broader sociology of education theory and, specifically, from his central arguments about the social-class nature of pedagogy, and using the concept of framing, the paper explains how middle-class forms of consciousness, experiences, and interests are evident in local primary maths pedagogic practices as revealed in curriculum policy documents. The paper discusses ways of interrupting such middle-class cultural reproduction ideologies and, in the process, of enabling the pedagogical recognition of working-class and disadvantaged learners in South African primary maths classes.

Generally, social-class inequalities in South African primary maths education have been noted (Fleisch, 2008; Graven, 2014; Hoadley; 2007; Taylor, 2007). Official statistics confirm that well over half, that is, 55,7% of local children live in poverty-stricken households (Statistics South Africa, 2014), with South Africa described as having the highest and most extreme levels of social and economic inequalities in the world (Fleisch, 2008; Graven, 2014). Large-scale national research from the DBE's 2001 and 2007 systemic evaluations (DBE, 2008), interpretation of data from the 1999, 2003, and 2013 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Studies (Reddy et al., 2015), and the 2012- 2014 Annual National Assessment (ANA) reports (DBE, 2012, 2013, 2014), cite educational inequality as a critical issue. Of the socioeconomic factors suggested as causing differentiation in education (Fleisch, 2008; Graven, 2014), this paper is interested in how the social base of pedagogic relations influences acquisition amongst different learners. Attempts have been made to specify the type of primary maths knowledge that ensures equity (Hoadley, 2007; Pausigere, 2015). Closely related to this article's review is Hoadley's (2008) work, which explains how social-class differences are reproduced, pedagogically, in local literacy classes. Both the Hoadley (2008) study and related work in Australia (Rose, 2004), England (Arnot & Reay, 2004), and Portugal (Morais, Neves, & Pires, 2004) show how particular pedagogic practices can overcome the effect of children's social backgrounds. However, there have been no specific appraisals on how primary maths pedagogies differentiate learners and reproduce inequalities.

The local social-class-disparities background, relevant educational literature reviews, and sociological theoretical perspectives have prompted this paper to investigate how local primary maths pedagogic practices offer unequal chances of acquisition for children from disadvantaged social classes-and to provide strategies for interrupting such propensities. Thus, this article is informed by three key research review questions:

* What are the social-class assumptions underpinning South African primary maths pedagogic practices promoted in the curriculum?

* How might pedagogic practices be changed to enable increased access to learning for all children?

* Which educational strategies might help learners of different social backgrounds cope with the strong sequencing and pacing requirements in the South African primary maths curriculum?

These review questions, and the educational knowledge code category of pedagogic framing and how it relates to social class, help structure the ensuing discussion in this paper. Thus, this article argues for the need for responsive pacing and mixed pedagogies that reflectively connect and profoundly relate with the nature of the mathematical concepts to be taught. …

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