A cultural-historical analysis of Grade 9 History curriculum and its pedagogical resources for learners' conceptual development

Master Thesis


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This study examines the extent to which the South African Grade 9 History Curriculum Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) document and its supplementary teaching resources (learners' textbooks and teachers' guides) outline knowledge focused on concept development in learners. The development of concepts requires learners' mediation in the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) where consideration and subsequent linkage of three knowledge forms namely: scientific concepts, everyday concepts and procedural knowledge is necessary. In light of this, a topic titled ‘National Party and apartheid' is analysed across the CAPS document and its teaching resources to examine the extent to which they outline these knowledge forms for concept development. Vygotsky's cultural-historical theory and the work of Neo-Vygotskians are used as the theoretical framework for the analysis of data in this study. The findings show that the CAPS document offer guidance to teaching resources on the necessary knowledge forms required to afford learners with full development of historical concepts outlined under the ‘National Party and apartheid' topic of the CAPS document. This is because a curriculum document is only designed to offer guidance and not to elaborate on content. As a result, teaching resources should elaborate on the contents of the curriculum and add sufficient knowledge forms. According to Vygotsky and Neo-Vygotskians, full concept development can only be possible if scientific concepts are made visible, sufficiently, and explicitly defined, linked to everyday concepts and procedural knowledge. This study shows that teaching resources failed to implement this fully. This study concludes that for teaching resources to afford learners with conceptual development, all three knowledge forms should be sufficiently and explicitly outlined and the necessary linkage between them made. This will, in turn, provide the teachers with sufficient and explicit pedagogy in the ZPD thereby affording learners with conceptual development. The development of concepts is necessary for South Africa because it helps to reduce social inequalities created in the past as well as granting learners the opportunity to live and work in a globalised environment. It is recommended that teaching resources prioritise the aims of the CAPS document by outlining knowledge forms for concept development.