In the following narrative academic essay where I am going to make use of Phenomenology as a philosophical perspective, to argue why most teachers in South African schools are obsessed with assessment and academic achievement. Secondly I am going to explore and explain how any form of academic achievement, which can be manipulative, and be compatible with true creativity and intellectual innovation. Thirdly I am going to provide a demonstration of how education is not just about the teaching and learning of technical competence. Lastly, I will provide a strategy that would be able to help schools to pay more attention to human values.
Obsession is flawed.
Teachers became obsessed with assessment because of the reflection good marks has on teachers. From a phenomenology perspective, having students get great marks can add meaning to a teacher’s life, that’s why teachers became so obsessed with assessment and academic achievement. The obsession of test has led to many teachers to eliminate projects that could provide students with the opportunity to be creative and imaginative. Assessment and standardized test is driving teachers fearful that their jobs will be at stake if their test scores don’t rise (Strauss, 2014). According to (Kanjee ; Sayed 2013) the schooling sector in South Africa has moved towards assessment as a main component for improving teaching as well as learning in schools. Assessment has been rooted in the curriculum and South Africa has embarked on a census-based system of Annual National Assessments (ANAs). The ANAs are known as a measure that could possibly increase the awareness of the challenges teachers and learners face, this testing intervention can equip teachers with the necessary information that can be useful to develop appropriate interventions for improving teaching and learning (RSA DBE 2012a). In my opinion there is a major flaw in the way assessment is taking place in schools, although useful. By labelling students as either good or poor learners based on their overall grades at the end of each year, instead of focusing on what grade a learner will get at the end of the year, to assessing progress students make over time (Masters, 2017).
Challenge the status quo.
After exploring how academic achievement can be compatible with creativity and intellectual innovation I have found that South African schools has a tendency for education to be assessed in terms of the academic achievement and targets that schools have set for themselves, rather than laying the foundation for lifelong learning among students. We have not been successful in preparing students for the abilities and skills they need to build lifelong learning. Academic achievement and assessment in schools has led to so many teachers to not make use of creative and innovative activities in the classroom that could provide learners the opportunity to show true creativity and intellectual innovation. The importance for students to learn deeper conceptual understanding, rather than knowledge being compartmentalized into distinct subjects and courses is evident. South Africa, like any other economically unequal country have tried to improve the access and quality of education but in spite of theimprovements made matric pass rates are lower than in other African countries. (Van der Berg, 2007). Creativity and innovation should be an integral part of the curriculum, this will enable the students to work collaboratively in the real world, to identify and solve problems. More importantly by integrating creativity and intellectual innovation in the curriculum, students will start to think differently and challenge the status quo. Teachers must prepare students for future jobs, jobs that don’t exist yet, in fields that will be created to meet the demand of an ever changing world. Students must use this knowledge to make a positive contribution in the world, instead of just achieving academic achievement. (Milani, Luther 2015).
I am going to provide a demonstration of how education is not just about the teaching and learning of technical competence. As important it is to teach the curricula, we must also prepare students for the challenges they may face after finishing school, this is can be done by not just learning and teaching technical competence. By using real-world examples in the classroom and tackling real-world problems as teaching strategies students become more engaged in active learning and critical thinking thus becoming more aware of the choices they make in society (Cox, 2018). The best practical way for teachers to help students develop skills, competencies and dispositions of professionals in the field are to demonstrate the importance of the subject matter and to relate the course material to real-life situations. In order for students to learn how to apply information, students need to practice applying the information in real life situations. It is useful to have students work in groups to solve a problem, for example students shouldn’t just be told about how to calculate their rate of return, they need to actually solve those problems using the concepts they are learning in class. Bringing real-world experiences into the classroom is a great way to give students a memorable experience that they can always take with them instead of just teaching and learning technical competence (Wooldridge, 2016).
Value based approach to teaching and learning.
For living in South Africa for 21 years I have discovered what a diverse and multicultural country it truly is and South Africans tend to regard their own values and needs as paramount, although we all form part of different ethnic, cultural, religious and linguistic groups. () In order to help develop a strategy that would enable schools to pay more attention to human values, a value-based strategy must be developed in our educational system. A value based approach to teaching and learning can build a strong learning environment that can improve academic achievement and help students to develop social relationships skills. A value based approach to teaching and learning must promote well-being amongst its young people and in the school environment. According to (Anon, 2015) well-being can be described as the quality of a person’s life. Well-being can be shaped by a number of influences including the degree to which students experience achievement, positive relationships, personal growth and development. Schools must pay attention to the ways in which well-being and human values can be incorporated into the curriculum, without disregarding basics such as literacy and numeracy. Other fields in schools must also be paid attention to, fields such as values, culture, religion, politics and economics. A strong educational process should not only focus on knowledge and information but on human values and well-being. Teaching students to be respectful to each other, learning them about good citizenship, how to show tolerance and understanding. Teaching students to not only inhabit the school environment, but take active part in a large number of social and family groups and bring those positive school experiences that would add meaning to life, to those groups.