Introduction The performance of most South African schools fluctuates from time to time. These fluctuation trends are as a result of the micro-evolutionary mechanistic changes that consistently take place throughout the country. Some schools in the urban areas perform extremely well, but some perform poorly despite the available resources that the school have.
For example some of these schools have laboratories that are highly functional and also well structured for experimental as well as practical work which enhances skills in learners and also intensifies the existing theoretical knowledge that the learners have, whereas in schools geographically featured in remote areas or should I say rural schools, these resources are scarce. Privileged learners in these schools (urban) do not utilize these resources appropriately. Most learners in rural areas come from very disadvantaged homes and go to disadvantaged schools.
However, the performance in some of these schools is satisfactory. Some learners academically excel irrespective of the harsh conditions they have to encounter on a daily basis. These Excellencies are facilitated by educators, parents/guardians or community members who act as “steering” in the learning environment. Educators in these schools sympathize with their learners and thus dedicate themselves in everything they do which effectively enhance as well make active the mindset of learners irrespective of their spectral backgrounds.
We often hear of these educators who play such critical roles in learner’s academic life in newspapers, community radio stations and also on televisions. Some of the work of these educators may not be globally recognized but the outcomes are truly appreciated in the South African context. Distinction between resilience and excellence The restoration from form unfavourable conditions due to environmental factors is referred to as resilience. Generally resilience according to Akhurst and Sader, 2012 is “the process of recovering quickly from misfortune or illness”.
If resilience was to be explained in scientific terms: It can be explained as follows, “let’s consider a typical plant cell and see what happens when you place it in a saturated solution( solution containing an excessive amounts of solutes) , the plant cell shrinks, becomes smaller in size and temporarily lose form and shape. During the process, its contents are rearranged, altered and functionality ceases to operate. When you take the same plant cell and place it in pure water, the cell regains its contents and gets restored back to its original form.
The plant cell does not die because there is a “resilient force” which prevents it from total annihilation. The plant cell stays dormant until its physiological conditions get restored”. Similarly in the context of resilience in schools, some schools are able to overcome the barriers associated with learning and continue with the production of good results irrespective of external factors. Excellence in simple terms can be described as the ability to do well or the production of positive outcomes. Excellence in schools can be assessed differenty depending on the schools primary purpose.
For example schools that do well in mathematics regard themselves as being excellent whereas schools that perform well in Speech and drama also regards themselves also as being excellent. So in actual fact, the description of the excellent depends on the desired outcomes of that particular context. Excellence in schools Resilience in Relation to Excellence Corporal punishment was another way of shaping learners, that mischiveously stood on the way pathway of learners with the willingness to perform to produce outstanding results. (Christie, P, 2001, p52).
Even though this is very unlawful, meetings based on corporal punishments are first discussed with the parents/guardians of the learners before a decision is taken. Some learners parents/guardians agrees, specifically those with children’s from black schools. The reason why they (parents) permit educators to give corporal punishment is simply because they were raised in a similar way which in a way instilled good discipline and also helped them to be responsible individuals. “Some parents still believe that abandoning corporal punishment by the government is the reason why learners perform poorly in their subjects at school.
However, according to Christie, 2012, the banning of corporal punishment could not be the reason for poor performance in South African schools, because no evidence was gathered in the apartheid era. Some resilient learners were greatly aspired by pupils in the community, these included church, and community services. This is true, for example in my case after trying to give on school . i. e. at high school, some grown up folks that lived in the same neighbourhood as me, folks that i used to hang up with and take drugs encouraged and told me that dropping out of school was not an option for a person who really wants to be successful in life.
At first when they said this, i questioned them about why did they drop out at standard 8 and 9, now known as grade 10 and 11 respectively? Unfortunately these guys did history while still at school and the response they gave was a quotation from former S. A president, Nelson Mandela, which stated that “A 70 year old can never think like a 30 year old, and being 70 years of age gives you the licence and priviledge that the 30 year old can never have”. The second quotation they gave was from Malcom X, which stated that,”The future belongs to those who prepare for it today”.
Well at that stage all of this was meaningless to me as a science learner, but after being triggered by a discussion I had with one of my EDPD610 colleague (Ms Moodley) during the first contact session, I started to realise the in depth meaning that these guys were trying to convey to me 11 years ago. Conditions at that time for me were unfavourable, both mom and dad were uneducated, consumed liquor and I had to watch my father beat my mother almost every weekend, the home turned into a “gladiator ring” with my elder brother and I as the referees.
I was good in mathematics and science at grade 8, but when I reached grade 10, the performance started to deteriorate because I started to take drugs and abandoned my soccer training in the afternoons. I joined wrong friends and isolated myself from my primary school buddies. Unfortunately one of my science teachers, Mrs S Padayachee detected the problem and confronted me directly. I received help, woke up and dusted myself, but it was too late for me to catch up with the material covered in grade 12. I ended passing with bad symbols and decided to repeat my matric.
After repeating, I passed with good symbols, enrolled for Bsc degree at UKZN, graduated, and now i’m a science educator, with less than a year experience. Generally I feel revived, resurrected, and restored and have this immense power of wanting to infiltrate knowledge to South African learners. I managed to excel academically despite the repulsive forces that acted upon me, I managed to excel in overcoming my negative thoughts, I managed to excel in making my family proud of me because i’m the only person in the family to reach matric and have a degree.
Best practices of teacher’s resilience in their schools Conclusion References 1) http://web. uvic. ca/hr/managertoolkit/changeandtransition/takingchargechange. pdf( date accessed 13/03/13) 2) Botha ,R. J(2004). Excellence in leadership : The demands the professional school pricinple. Retrieved 08 March 13, 2013http://www. ajol. info/index. php/saje/article/viewFile/24995/20678 3) Christie,P. (2001). Improving school quality in South Africa: a study of schools that have succeeded against the odds. Journal of Education , 41,45,52 4) Hattie, J (2003). Teachers make a difference: what is the research eveidence.