Matric educator, Mrs Natricia Naidoo, was ecstatic when she graduated summa cum laude with a master’s in education at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
Naidoo enrolled for her postgraduate degree while on maternity leave in 2016, spending days and most nights developing her proposal. After giving birth to her daughter, she continued reading through literature and writing her research, with her newborn by her side.
It took hard work and discipline to produce the thesis. Lack of sleep, two young children dependent on her, the demands of teaching and studying towards a postgraduate degree, often made the strain unbearable. However, the support of her family kept her focused.
As a life sciences teacher who teaches environmental education, Naidoo elected to gaze inwards by examining her teaching practice in a reflective way. She selected the topic “Human Impact on the Environment”.
‘The negative impact of human beings on the environment has resulted in it being in a state of crisis. Environmental education is often employed as a vehicle to enhance environmental awareness. There is a crucial need for environmental education to become relevant to learners in the classroom. Within the South African school context environmental education is officially included in the curriculum.
‘It is the responsibility of teachers to implement the curriculum for environmental education in a relevant and innovative manner. It is expected by curriculum planners that the teaching and learning of environmental education would have a lasting impression on learners and contribute positively to the world in which we live,’ said Naidoo.
This study enabled her to tap into her potential as a classroom practitioner to do different things differently. ‘I engaged critical friends to critique past and present lesson plans, as well as to observe current lessons which I taught. Through a self-study methodology I was able to view my pedagogy from different angles and perspectives.
‘My personal and professional self was challenged, humbled and developed in many ways. I was compelled to address issues I often neglected, or did not know existed. By using analytical constructs from the Zone of Feasible Innovation I was able to elevate my teaching to greater heights.’
She hopes that her study provides valuable insights to teachers in general and life sciences teachers in particular, about innovative teaching.
Naidoo thanked her family, friends and supervisors, Drs Ronicka Mudaly and Leonard Molefe for their support and encouragement.
She plans to pursue her PhD in the future.