Instructional Methods: What is Reflective Teaching and is Lack of Reflective Teaching to blame for poor teaching practices in African schools?

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CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION

1d(v). What is reflective teaching and is lack of reflective teaching to blame for poor teaching practices in African schools?

Reflective teaching is a process where teachers think over their teaching practices, analyzing how the teaching was carried out  and how the practice might be improved or changed for better learning outcomes.  It stems from Dewey’s notion (1933) of reflective action  as opposed to routine action. The latter is guided by factors such as tradition, habit, and authority and by institutional definitions and expectations.

The educational sector in Africa is indeed in dire need of better policies and an overhaul of existing infrastructure. The Africa Learning Barometer, a new interactive study produced by  the Brookings Center for Universal Education, indicates that currently only about half of sub-Saharan Africa’s 128 million school-aged children currently attending school are likely to acquire the basic skills needed for them to live healthy and productive lives.  The research further showed that poor female children who were attending schools in rural regions were far more likely not to be learning the critical skills, such as reading, writing and Math. This happens to be the case in countries, such as South Africa, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Lesotho and Botswana. Even though socio -economic and political factors play a huge role in this sad reality lack of reflective learning is a huge obstacle for comprehension of knowledge by African students.

According to Benaars (1998) most teachers in African schools operate as mere instructors, rigidly sure of their facts, unwilling to tolerate critical questions, and highly authoritarian in their behavior.  He continues to lament that African teachers have  eschewed a liberating  pedagogy for the sake of high performance in an examination.  Reflective teaching according to Berens(1997) encompasses a situation where teachers encourage interactive learning so that they are able to think reflectively about teaching.  Reflective teaching hence is crucial to ensure that the best learning outcome is achieved by the teacher time and time again, instead of recycling failed policies and teaching techniques.

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Reflective teaching is central for progressive teaching techniques.

 

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