Current Institutional Affiliation
WiSER (Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research, University of the Witwatersrand

Award Information

Next Generation Social Sciences in Africa: Doctoral Dissertation Proposal Fellowship 2014
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research, University of the Witwatersrand
From intellectuals to functionaries? : A brief history of black teacher consciousness in South Africa 1970 - 2013

My research will engage the question 'What has become of black teacher consciousness in South Africa?' In particular it will reflect on the history of black teachers as intellectuals, and assess the transformations in the subjectivity and consciousness of black teachers that have occurred during the transition out of apartheid.The black teacher in South Africa has at critical moments in the history of apartheid been able to do the work of creating critically-minded youth in the fight against apartheid despite the dire curriculum, infrastructure and resources made available to black school children by the white state.With the arrival of a post-apartheid government, teachers have lost much of their social status, have been seen as mere functionaries of the curriculum, often represented as morally corrupt, inefficient and lazy.Certainly they are understood to be bystanders to the process of transforming South African education and, through it, society. Little research has been done to understand the dynamics of the subject and consciousness of teachers, either historically or in the contemporary moment.In a country where, despite massive spending on education, the educational system for black children remains dismal, research on black teachers and their relationship to their labour is a crucial developmental undertaking. To this end, my proposed project will consider three significant research nodes.Firstly, the role of education generally as a mode of social reproduction and critique, and the role of teacher-intellectual more specifically in transforming society.Secondly, an historical overview of the role of black teachers from three South African regions.Thirdly, a study of final-year students of education at three predominantly black universities in South Africa assessing their biographies and their decision to become teachers.Together, these three research nodes will allow for a textured understanding of the historical and contemporary figure of the black teacher as a site for social stasis and/or change.