When Democracy Came Into Play Education Essay

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In order for us as human beings to live on and prosper socially, politically and economically we have to persuade ourselves throughout life (McKenzie & Wurzburg, 1997:13). Change in education is important, especially what has happened in our country after 1994 when democracy came into play. Everything has changed and our perception about each other has also changed in some way or other. For some of us these changes are difficult to accept. Those who understand change, find the process easy and accept more easily what it is about and thus brings it along in education. Teachers themselves, find it hard to accept changes or to transform because of change.

Change has entered the business world in many ways. In the business world we refer to organizational change, and in schools we reflect on change in education and the system all together. In schools the principal is regarded as the change agent. He is the one that gives direction when change is necessary. As a principal myself, I organize and conduct workshops with regards to these changes and help to bring about the paradigm shift. Politicians also make use of change in their endeavours to play important roles in the political situation of a community. Usually these people come up with a way of thinking and in doing so, force their followers to think alike. That is what I call planned change.

My point of view:

To a large extend, I think that conventional teaching methods are based on a assimilative learning, i.e. students are expected and retain various facts and figures. In doing this, we do not encourage the true development of intellect. I think for intellect be developed, one need to expand the following:


My view on this is that one has to bear in mind that the mind has the ability to flip from the past to the future or the other way around, i.e. you can be busy working in the garden and already plan your activity for the night. For you to take in knowledge, you have to concentrate one hundred percent. Your mind has to be trained to take note of the specific subject matter.


People are generally followers and thus they sometimes just tend to follow trends. The learners in one of my classes that I teach, had an assignment on what they want to become in life. They could only reflect on the subject matter but were unable to think critically about their choices. One of the reasons why these learners found it difficult to motivate why they wanted to study for a certain career, is because they do not understand what these people do who are in these careers. Children are very lazy when it comes to reading and learning. Thus they only make use of a minute part of their brain, they follow their friends like sheep. They always tend to look for the easy way out. According to (Mezirow, 1991:167), learners must engage in a critical reflection on their experiences, which could possibly lead to transformation of meaning perspective. Perspective transformation is the goal. This is the process of becoming critically aware of how and why our assumptions have come to constrain the way in which perceive, understand and feel about the world.


You have to be consistent in your learning. Let us take Natalie du Toit, a famous international swimmer and gold medalist in the Olympics as an example. To have come to this level, she had to work extremely hard, continuously and consistently. If she did not exercise on a regular basis and push herself to limits, she would never be able to achieve those high performing standards. Sometimes I notice that learners my classes give up much too easily. The only way to be a successful learner, is to impose self-discipline and a higher self-esteem. By doing this, we will enable the learners to believe in themselves and to be more consistent in what they do.


This is bouncing off your ideas to your friends and fellow teachers. Interaction takes place when learners work in pairs or in small groups in support of one another. In this way the child learns to work by himself and collectively in a group. He not only experiences new ideas and new ways of doing things, but exchanges these ideas.

My research and technique:

To be able to do this assignment, I had to find out what the meaning of "perspective transformation and transformative learning" was. I had to familiarize myself with the facts that I


understand the difference between these concepts. When approaching some of my colleagues, they were dump struck because they did not know what I was talking about. I did a lot of reading by consulting dictionaries, reading through the study guides, visiting libraries for books and surfing the internet. Some of the colleagues that knew and others that did not know about these concepts were actually applying it already without them knowing about it. The learners in their classrooms were reluctant in the beginning to implement this method as were the learners in my class. They were used to us as educators to spoon feed them. We as educators often attend workshops and are introduced to new methods and ideas in order for us to teach our learners effectively. In these seminars or workshops, it becomes evident that teachers are reluctant to change. With change comes pain. We sometimes refuse to do away with the old methods. We are afraid of losing out for we are so use to the structure of teachers teaching while learners are passive listeners. I must admit that the research that I've done in doing my assignments, made me reconsider my teaching methods. This I also shares with my colleagues.

The data I found for my research are as follows:

Transformative learning:

I explain a few meanings of the concept 'transformative learning'.

According Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, transformative learning is a process of getting beyond the gaining of factual knowledge alone, instead to change by what one learns in some meaningful way. It involves to questioning assumptions, believes and values, and to considering multiple points of view, while always seeking to verify reasoning. According to Mezirow (1997:5), is that transformative learning develops autonomous thinking. One can also say that transformative transformation explains how the meaning structures that adults have acquired over a lifetime become transformed.

The teacher change is the precursor difference in education. We must change our attitude towards teaching. Without the change of teachers' attitudes efforts intended to facilitate reform are disillusioned and nullified. It will leave any apparent progress either accidental or superficial.

Teachers are caught in their own history. It does not matter how good an adult make sense of their experiences, they all started with what they have been given. They operated within


horizons set by the ways of seeing and understanding what they acquired through prior learning. They also found out that according to transformative learning theories, perspective transformation is the result of several conditions and processes:

It is an activating event that exposes the restrictions of a learner's current knowledge or approach.

The opportunities for a learner to identify and express the underlined assumptions in the learners' current knowledge or approach.

The critical self-reflection as the learner considers where these underlying assumptions come from and how these assumptions influenced or restricted their understanding.

The critical discourse with other learners and the teacher as the group examines alternative ideas and approaches.

The opportunities to test and apply new perspectives.

According to (Cranton: 2002), when these processes occur, learners are more likely to revise their underlying assumptions, adopt a new paradigm, and apply this new paradigm.

Our teaching strategies:

According to Kelly McGonigal, the content of our teaching will make some of our strategies more suitable than others. She also airs her views that teachers of any field can make use of the transformative learning theory. Below find the strategies of what the Stanford University faculty members are doing to bring these strategies to their classrooms.

The Activating Event

According to the Stanford University Centre this episode can be anything that triggers learners to test their thinking and possible restrictions of their understanding. It is very important of us as educators to understand our learners' backgrounds. In order to construct an effective critical event, we need to anticipate what learners think and can identify. I will be wise to learn about the learners' background at the start of each term. In addition to basic classroom interactions, anonymous pre-tests, surveys, and early graded or non-graded assignments can all be effective tools.


One needs to provide conflicting view points. These conflicting perspectives can motivate learners to test their own perspectives. This can be done by providing these viewpoints in readings or in the classroom.

Another factor could be to create a disorientated hitch. In this instance the teacher will challenge what learners believe. The reason for this is to baffle and maneuver learners and it also motivates them more to learn whatever one will present in class.

The teacher can deliberately set learners up for failure. The failure driven method is most motivated to learn when their current knowledge is insufficient to solve an interesting problem. When the learners reach a problem-solving impasse, they should recognize that new information or new approach is needed. It is just not enough to hand learners an unsolved problem. We must convince them that the impasse can be resolved and create conditions that encourage their success. In the old conventional way, teachers use to give their learners their faulty mathematics problems back and told them to do corrections without any explanation.

Identifying Current Assumptions

The best way for teachers to help learners to identify their current assumptions, all require that learners explain their thinking:

Teachers can use critical questioning techniques. We can ask learners to explain their reasoning and the reason by their reasoning. We can help learners top identify their assumptions by offering counter examples, alternative scenarios or differing perspective.

Teachers can also ask learners to make a prediction about an experiment, event or procedure. Let the learners explain their predictions, in a discussion or as quickly written exercise. This can be effective when the actual outcome will provide a disorientating dilemma.

We can let learners talk through their think or problem-solving strategy. This is very helpful if you use a failure-driven approach as the critical event. We can give learners a challenging


question or problem and have them talk through the process. We can do this so that the learners have partners or in small groups or through direct interaction between learner and teacher. Teachers must ask learners to evaluate a specific position used. This we can do as a small group discussion or as a written assignment.

Encouraging Critical Reflection

The most single part of transformational learning is critical reflection, which requires that learners privately examine their current assumptions. Critical reflection will occur outside of the classroom, as the learner absorbs and integrates what happened in the classroom. The writing of assignments is an excellent way to invite learners to engage in solitary reflection. Teachers can ask learners to keep a class journal of questions, observations and experiences. Teachers can encourage learners to keep track of their 'Aha' moments. This means when they suddenly understand a new concept or viewpoint. They must also keep a journal of conflict and confusion.

I start using the writing in journals when I discovered that my learners have problems with writing essays. I suggested to the learners that they use the first five minutes of each day to write in their journals. They could write anything of concern. They did have to show me what they wrote if they did not want to. At first they were unsure of what to do or what to write. Today I have to keep time because they got use method and like it. This method really improved their writing skills.

Encouraging Critical Discourse

The most social aspect of transformative learning is critical discourse. Teachers must create opportunities for learners to reflect through conversation. When the teachers introduces a new strategy, concept or paradigm in class, they must ask learners to analyse the approach and to compare it with their previous assumptions.

You can make time during tuition time for more extended periods of discussion and debate. We as teachers must remember that not all discussions are critical. The learners have to have their assumptions respectfully challenged. You can ask a learner to challenge anyone's assumptions or the teacher can play that role him/herself. One must encourage


learners to explain or defend their viewpoints. The learners must be encourage to keep their conversations going outside of the classroom.

Giving Learners an Opportunity to Test a New Paradigm or Perspective

According to Taylor (1998), for transformational learning to move from thought to action, learners need opportunities to apply their new knowledge. Teachers must create activities and assignments that empower learners to apply new approaches with a high rate of success. Teachers must return to the disorientating dilemma or let us say we use the failure-driven exercise and learners approach it with their new knowledge. Teachers can give learners a problem or assignment with different problem-solving approaches. With that one can also create classroom exercises with role playing and debates, which give learners to give learners the opportunity to try new perspectives.

Foster Intellectual Openness

For transformative learning to take place, the teacher must hit a careful balance between support and challenge. Confidence amongst learner and the teacher is especially imperative in any course that uses writing and discussion as a primary strategy for critically reflection and discourse. According to Cranton (2002:66), he argues that although learner empowerment and support are important an "environment of challenge" is the central ingredient for transformative learning. Learners must have their beliefs and assumptions actively challenged. According to Boyd and Myers (1998), they recommend that educators practice "seasoned guidance" and "compassionate criticism". If you push too hard, learners will resist; if you push learners too little, the opportunity for learning will quickly fade.


No matter what we teach, we as teachers face the challenge of bringing learners from what they currently know to the learning goals of a course. Learners must not just only acquire new skills and information, but should also radically transform their approach to thinking and learning. As teachers we should encourage our learners to be lifelong learners.

McGonical gives some great practical examples of how we as teachers can use these conditions. She also writes about sitting learners up for failure in order for them to seek new


methods to succeed. We must not try to change the learner, but to transform his attitude towards learning and thinking. We must try to get learners more involved in critical thinking and help them to develop the urgency to be useful to themselves, the school and the household. Even as teachers we should transform by setting examples in good relations more ethical and moral issues and as change agents of this process, we must motivate our learners.

Source List

Arnzen,Micha, Ph.D. August 24, 2005, Shifting the Paradigm: Transformative Learning Theory. http://blogs.setonhill.edu/MikeArnzen/010220. Date of access 04 February 2010.

Di Biase, Warren J., University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Mezirow's Theory of Transformative Learning with implications for science teachers Educators. (ANON date)

Imel, Susan, 1998, Transformative learning in Adulthood. Eric Digest No.200. http://www.ericdigest.org/1999-2/adulthood.htm Date of access: 04 February 2010.

Open Learning Educator Academy, Tutorial Notes 2010, for students doing the HonsBed in Education Management.

Transformative learning-Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transformative_learning. Date of access: 04 February 2010.

Tsao, Michael, Takahashi K., Olusesi J.,Jain S., The University of Georgia, Transformative Learning, from Emerging Perspectives on Learning, Teaching Technology. http://projects.coe.uga.edu/ep/tt/index.php?title=Transformative_Learning. Date of acces 02 February 2010.