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Title: Quality in teacher education: A systems thinking approach
Authors: Chetty, Rajendra 
Keywords: Teacher education;South Africa;Poor quality training;Higher Education sector
Issue Date: 2011
Publisher: EBSCOhost
Abstract: Systems Thinking and Soft Systems Methodology were used in this paper to view the complex situation of Teacher Education in South Africa from a holistic and objective perspective. Systems thinking ensured that the level of perceptiveness of the problem context was increased. The methodological process was critical and emancipatory and ensured that the study interpreted situations from the viewpoint of others, interrogated boundary judgements and considered the voices of those who lie on the fringe of the problem situation. The key concern that this paper addresses is the poor quality training of teachers and inappropriate normative principles and philosophies in the management of the Higher Education sector. The quality issue is complicated by the fact that ethics, corporate social responsiveness and governance do not adequately inform the decision making process in institutions. If the quality of Teacher Education is not effectively addressed, it would have an adverse effect on the school system, society, the national economy and global competitiveness. The research question, 'How can quality be ensured in teacher education programmes in South Africa?' was answered using the postmodern systems thinking approach. In postcolonial contexts this methodology is highly effective for qualitative studies as it works from the assumption that the real-world is constructed in such a way through discourse that particular groups/individuals are marginalized. Data from the primary sources (interviews with academics and students), the case study and my own reflection on the sector are presented. Key elements relevant to the paradigm shift towards quality teacher education are posited in the paper. A robust model for the functioning of Teacher Education faculty using an appropriate normative management approach derived from systems thinking is developed to ensure quality in the sector. By only looking at knowledge around Teacher Education that concerns how and why things are the way they are, in an impersonal manner, is characteristic of a scientific/technical perspective. When the views of stakeholders are included and there is discourse around their engagement with each other within the problem context, the power relationships with each other, the role of institutions like the academe in knowledge production and teacher training and the construction of society within postcolonial contexts, an interpersonal/social perspective to the problem is employed. More importantly, from a systemic knowledge perspective, questions have to be asked around how actions and ideas in the paradigm shift of Teacher Education in South Africa (the small context) engage with the larger global picture.
Appears in Collections:Edu - Conference Proceedings

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