Learning support materials (LSMs) and Curriculum 2005 (C2005): a research paper on the role of learning support materials in Curriculum 2005

Czerniewicz, L. and Murray, S.R. and Probyn, M.J. (2000) Learning support materials (LSMs) and Curriculum 2005 (C2005): a research paper on the role of learning support materials in Curriculum 2005. Other. Department of National Education, Pretoria, South Africa.

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Abstract

The report examines the role of LSMs in bringing about the change envisaged in Curriculum 2005. It highlights three aspects of the new curriculum that are especially pertinent: resource-based learning, information literacy and lifelong learning. It argues that lifelong learning depends on information literacy, and this literacy can only be acquired through interaction with resources. The new curriculum thus requires resources. The report then examines the way in which LSMs are conceptualised in policy documents. It reveals a lack of clarity both with regard to the nature of LSMs and who is responsible for producing them. It proposes a framework for the description of LSMs, which distinguishes between resources (the ‘raw materials’) and LSMs (resources shaped to a pedagogical purpose). The question of access to resources is then considered. The report argues that access requires a minimum level of expenditure, and points to the fact that spending on LSMs has fallen dramatically over the past four years. To enable access, LSMs must be well-structured, well-prepared and appropriate. They must also reach schools on time and be well-managed when they get there. The report also considers access to libraries and computer technology, both of which are vital in resource-based learning. It reveals severe cutbacks in school and provincial library services, and disparities with regard to access to libraries and computer technology, in particular and to LSMs in general. In multilingual societies, language is a factor that determines access to LSMs. The report reveals that although policy advocates a multilingual approach, increasing numbers of School Governing Bodies are opting for education in English. This will influence publishing in all African languages. The report then turns to the situation in classrooms and finds wide disparities between teaching practices in well-resourced and under-resourced schools with the former being closer to the practices advocated by C2005 than the latter. The report suggests that change will not occur overnight. Resources construct practice and are necessary in order for real change to occur. Low levels of literacy, especially in rural schools are exacerbated by the fact that children are expected to read in an inadequately mastered second language. Consequently, teachers interpret textbooks that are often inaccessible to learners thus setting patterns of rote learning and dependency that persist throughout children’s schooling. Poor basic literacy is also a concern as it is fundamental to the development of more sophisticated literacies required by C2005. The report considers the teacher-textbook debate and challenges its polarity, arguing instead for a hand-in-hand approach: textbooks and other LSMs cannot on their own improve teaching; they must be accompanied by teacher development. It is this view which frames discussion of three important components of teacher competence: use of LSMs; design / production of LSMs; and evaluation of LSMs Research suggests that teachers mediate LSMs and adapt them to existing practice and that teachers do not always share the vision of materials writers nor understand their conceptual goals. They may not even use LSMs when they are available. Nevertheless, international research has shown that carefully designed LSMs can support curriculum change. While policy now requires that teachers produce some of their own LSMs, research reveals wide disparities in their ability to do so. For many the desire to produce their own LSMs does not translate into a practical competence. Some commentators believe that it is unrealistic to expect teachers to produce their own LSMs: they should rather make use of good quality textbooks (which provide the learning programme), and develop their own supplementary materials. However this highlights the importance of consistent, fair and competent book evaluation systems/ practices, an area which research has shown to be currently extremely problematic. In conclusion, the report re-emphasises the importance of resources and stresses their role in capacity building. Concern is expressed that policy documents do not always pay sufficient attention to this. The report also points to the need to increase efficiencies in the system and spend what funding there is wisely. Finally, it highlights the need for more systematic research on what happens in classrooms to inform curriculum planning and implementation.

Item Type:Monograph (Other)
Uncontrolled Keywords:education; South Africa
Subjects:Y Unknown > Subjects to be assigned
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Education > Education
Research Institutes and Units > Institute for the Study of English in Africa (ISEA)
ID Code:1448
Deposited By:INVALID USER
Deposited On:19 Aug 2009
Last Modified:06 Jan 2012 16:20
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