The Dilemma with Change or Non Change: How Teachers in Historically White Schools Deal with Change

By:
Dr. Ethel Una Pather,
Dr Gail Andrews
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This paper presents the results of empirical research conducted in three historically white schools in South Africa and will highlight the impact of change on teachers’ subjective reality. In the changed school environment many teachers are experiencing the difficulty that they regard is as a result of change.

'The crux of change is how individuals come to grips with this reality. We vastly underestimate both what change is… and the factors and processes that account for it…it is a fact of life’. All authentic change embraces a pass through the various stages of uncertainty, loss, anxiety and struggle and is characteristic in cases of real change. Anxiety, frustration and confusion are elements of a teacher’s subjective reality frequently ignored by initiators of change. Subjective reality in this context relates to teachers’ realities and their emotional reaction to occurrences, and the attitudes, values and beliefs that these reactions stem from. Just as school change is a global phenomenon, so too is the intensification of a teacher’s workload, which places greater demands on teachers than ever before. While teachers experience frustration concerning the pace of change, policy implementers and education managers may experience frustration at what they perceive as resistance to change. ‘It isn’t that people resist change as much as they don’t know how to cope with it’.

There are two forms of non–change, namely, “false clarity without change and painful un–clarity without change”. Other studies of attempted change indicate that many teachers do not experience the comfort of false clarity.

False clarity occurs when people think that they have changed but have only assimilated the superficial trappings of the new practice. Painful un–clarity is experienced when unclear innovations are attempted under conditions that do not support the developments of the subjective meanings of change.


Keywords: Change,, False Clarity, Painful Unclarity, Genuine Clarity, Change, Non Change, Teachers’ Subjective Reality
Stream: Education and Social Welfare
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Dr. Ethel Una Pather

Senior lecturer, Department of Educational Studies, University of Johannesburg
South Africa

I have spent over 25 years in education. I began my career in Education as a high school teacher and I taught History, Geography and English at senior level. I subsequently moves on to lecture at a university that catered predominantly for black students. At that particular university I taught Education to first year students as well as Subject methodology in History. As South Africa had at the time just gained democratic status it was exciting to investigate and explore the Social History of the marginalised black people of South Africa. In addition I taught a Bed Honours courses involving diversity and social jjustice, I also supervised Masters Students.
At my present institution my main function is to train teachers, and supervise Masters and Doctoral Students. I also lecture a course to BED Honours students entitled Diversity in Education. As a black South African I am passionate about Social justice, equality and equity in education. My PhD looked specifically at Multicultural Education. Since all schools have become multicultural I see the necessity to train teachers to teach in a Multicultural classroom. In addition I also see the need for anti-racist policies to be formulated and implemented. I have presented a number of papers at international conferences and have published some papers in Education Now in the UK.
I also assist the Human Science Research Council on a voluntary basis as a field worker and researcher, because another of my passions is empirical research. The most recent work that I did for the Human Science Research Council was the Role of Women in Science and Technology and Refugees HIV status in South Africa an overseas funded project. My community involvement includes a project with AIDS Orphans and Senior Citizens

Dr Gail Andrews

Director/Head, Social Aspects of HIV/AIDs Research Alliance, Human Sciences Research Council
South Africa


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