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A culturally responsive strategy for teaching sexual concepts in rural Xhosa secondary schools

While research shows that the recognition and integration of indigenous knowledge (IK) is an important issue for developing culturally responsive strategies when teaching and learning science to, and by, indigenous people, little has been said about cultural taboos of a sexual nature and their effects on teaching and learning. This study investigated issues of taboo language use when teaching topics of a sexual nature during high school Biology classes. It also investigated the effects of a teacher development intervention based on Ogunniyi’s Contiguity Argumentation Theory (CATPD) towards culturally responsive teaching strategies. Four phases in one cycle of a Critical Participatory Action Learning and Action Research (CPALAR) design were used in schools located in deep rural villages with a sample of Life Science Grade 12 teachers. Initially, 30 teachers answered a semi-structured questionnaire aimed at identifying cultural restrictions that could impede the teaching of sexual concepts (Stage 1). Stages 2-4 included seven participants of both gender. Data were generated from two sets of drawings with descriptions and audio recorded focus group discussions. The teaching of a collectively developed Indigenised Teaching Strategy lesson by a group-selected ‘model-teacher’ was video-recorded and analysed. Written participant evaluation is presented in a flow chart. Data analysis was done by manual thematic data analysis and by using Atlas ti. 8. The use of multiple data collection strategies contributed to the trustworthiness and credibility of the study. The few existing studies on cultural taboos report avoidance of using the vernacular for biological terminology and promote the exclusive use of standard, terms in English. In contrast, Xhosa IK-based sexual euphemisms derived from elderly, unlearned Xhosa women were successfully used for teaching sexual concepts. The teachers reported their findings through the cultural lens of Xhosa people. Cognitive change from the suppressed level in the CAT hierarchy to a more harmonious equipollent level of understanding was brought about using Bakhtin’s theory of heteroglossia and the indigenist cognitive perspective of Contiguity Argumentation Theory. This cognitive shift enabled verbalisation of the culturally avoided taboo sexual concepts. The transition in thinking symbolised transformation in terms of critical pedagogy. The claim is made that using Contiguity Argumentation Theory (CAT) and Bakhtin’s explanations of heteroglossia provides an effective professional intervention in a deeply culturally determined Xhosa community. While not generalisable, the effect of this strategy should be of value when considering teacher development in indigenous communities and disciplines.
Key words: culturally responsive strategies, rural secondary school, Contiguity Argumentation Theory Professional Development, Xhosa Indigenised Teaching Strategy, culturally avoided sexual terms, CPALAR.

Uploaded by: Ayanda Simayi
Author: Simayi, Ayanda | ORCID: 0000-0002-5592-2745
Institution: Nelson Mandela University | Centre: East and South African-German Centre for Educational Research, Methodologies and Management (CERM-ESA)
Thesis Supervisor (s): Webb, Paul |
Type: Theses | Doctoral | English
Subjects: Education

Date: December 2021 | Pages: xvii, 293 pages
Copyright: Nelson Mandela University | License: Open Access