Archaeology education in South Africa : developing curriculum programmes in three Cape Town schools

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

The history of educational archaeology in South Africa and the intersection of the discipline and the South African school curriculum informed the choice of the research question for this project. This question is "What happens when an archaeologist develops educational programmes and curriculum materials for schools in order that the teachers' and learners have access to the archaeological knowledge and archaeological research skills?" The following assumptions were made at the beginning of the project and it was investigated whether they were valid or not, during the research process: 1. That the curriculum materials produced for an archaeological education programme should be able to be used by teachers without the intervention of an archaeologist. 2. That the teachers could be relied on to develop assessment exercises, which would satisfactorily test whether the learners had achieved the outcomes of the particular programme. 3. That the teachers would be willing to participate as critical partners throughout the research process by providing evaluations of the educational material and the particular programme in general. Three Cape Town schools were selected to participate in the project, which follows an action research paradigm, with each programme at each school being one action research cycle. Reflections on each programme informed the decisions made in the following one. Educational materials were developed for each school, with the assistance of educational editors and trialled in schools with assistance of teachers. Attention was paid to lesson structure, the pitching of questions and the sources of information used. The materials and the three programmes in general were evaluated with the use of questionnaires, which comprised open-ended and direct questions, formal interviews with teachers, which were recorded and transcribed, observation of classes and detailed note taking. The knowledge and skills learners developed as a result of their participation in the programmes was assessed in a variety of ways. Personal Meaning Maps (PMMs) were used by the researcher at Schools B and C in order to develop an understanding of the breadth of the learners' knowledge and opinion on the subjects of slavery and history. The teachers designed assessment exercises in the form of creative writing essays, a comprehension test and an assessment essay. It was found that the teachers at the three schools needed guidance in order to use the curriculum materials in their classrooms for the main aim of this research project to be achieved. The teachers understood the archaeological knowledge but not the archaeological research methods that were used to produce it, because of this it was also found that the teachers could not be relied on to produce satisfactory methods of assessment. In the process of undertaking research in the three schools in question, the teachers were willing to participate as critical partners if they felt that they were well informed enough about the discipline of archaeology.

Includes bibliographical references.