Reminders of Race, Reminders of Identities: Language as an Occasion for “Othering” in South African Classrooms

By Daisy Pillay, Kiron K. Gokar and Harsha Kathard.

Published by The Learner Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The paper reports on research conducted with teachers teaching in racially diverse schools in KwaDukuza in KZN, SA. Racially diverse schools resulted from efforts instituted by the government to desegregate schools that were historically separated along racial lines. The research comprising of interviews, questionnaires and narratives explores how teachers’ experiences are complexly intertwined with issues of race, class, language. Teachers’ racialised identities shape their understanding of race and class. Using a critical anti-racist lens we explore how teachers invest in constructs of Othering in/through language. While teachers don’t use the dichotomy Black and White, they use language to replace their experiences of working with the Other. Firstly, we offer a description of the context in which the interactions occur by focusing on the racial demographics of the schools, and then explaining how teachers’ racialised identities act as filters for constructing black learners. Finally we present how teachers in particular school systems maintain apartheid style divisions using language.

Keywords: Desegregation, Diversity, English, Integrating Schools, Language, Othering, Racism, South Africa, Whiteness

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 14, Issue 8, pp.147-156. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 569.634KB).

Prof. Daisy Pillay

Deputy Head of School, School of Education and Development, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Dr Daisy Pillay is a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Education, UKZN. As one of the senior staff in the School of Education and Development, she currently serves as the Discipline Chair for Teacher Education and Professional Development. In this position she coordinates, lectures, supervises and promotes scholarship in post-graduate studies in this critical and under-researched dimension in South African education. She is currently leading a South African National Research Foundation project towards Understanding mentoring relationships during school-based teaching practice in KwaZulu-Natal.

Dr Kiron K. Gokar

Educator, Department of Education, Stanger M L Sultan Secondary School, Stanger, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa

Kiron Gokar is a teacher at Stanger M L Sultan Secondary School in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. He currently serves as Head of Department of Science. Kiron is currently pursuing his Doctoral research in the field of Teacher Experiences in Racially Diverse Schools.

Prof. Harsha Kathard

University of Cape Town, South Africa

A/Prof Harsha Kathard is a speech-language therapist and audiologist at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. She is the Director in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences and is engaged in undergraduate and postgraduate research across health and social science disciplines. She is currently leading a South African National Research Foundation project towards collaborative practices focused on enhancing communication in complex classrooms in the Western Cape.

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