Education academic Professor Kathleen Pithouse-Morgan presented her work at the Intercultural Education Society of Japan (IESJ) Research Seminar Series. Her presentation was on Self-Study of Teaching and Teacher Education Practices in South Africa.
The IESJ was established in 1981 as an educational research community to study cultural differences in education. Its members have diverse academic backgrounds, including psychology, sociology, ethnology, linguistic, international relations, and literature. Their research interests include identity, bilingualism, cross-cultural communication, and teacher education.
The seminar focused on Self-Study of Teaching and Teacher Education Practices and was arranged on behalf of the Research Committee of the IESJ by Professor Masahiro Saito of Asahikawa University. It was chaired by Professor Tatsuya Hirai of Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University.
Pithouse-Morgan said of her research, ‘Self-study methodology emerged from groundbreaking work done in the early 1990s by a group of teacher educators who founded the Self-Study of Teacher Education Practices (S-STEP) special interest group of the American Educational Research Association (AERA). Since then, the field of self-study research and the self-study research community have continued to evolve and grow. In taking a self-study research stance, teacher educators, teachers, and other professionals look critically and creatively at themselves to reimagine their own practice to contribute to others’ well-being.’
Pithouse-Morgan is a teacher educator who facilitates and teaches self-study research in South Africa and internationally. ‘Working individually and with other colleagues, I support and guide communities of university educators, teachers, and postgraduate students who are interested in learning about and enacting self-study research.’
Her presentation offered four exemplars of recently completed self-study research by school teachers she supervised for their doctoral studies: Dr Khulekani Luthuli, Dr Ntokozo Mkhize, Mr S’phiwe Madondo, and Dr Nontuthuko Phewa. These teachers came from different school contexts but worked together as critical friends to support one another’s self-study research processes. The four exemplars demonstrate why and how teacher-researchers in South Africa are taking up self-study to improve their professional practice and contribute to educational change.
Luthuli’s self-study project was conducted to explore his mentoring as a deputy school principal and improve his mentoring practice to guide novice teachers on positive learner behaviour support. Mkhize studied social and emotional learning in her Grade 4 classroom at an urban primary school. Madondo explored children’s popular culture as a resource for teaching and learning English creative writing in his Grade 6 class in a semi-rural area, serving an isiZulu-speaking community. Phewa studied playful pedagogy as a valuable teaching and learning approach in her under-resourced Grade 1 classroom in a semi-urban area.
‘As illustrated by the four exemplars, teachers’ self-study research is valuable because self-study entails studying the impact on the self and the effects of this work with others and for others. This presentation offered inspiration to teachers and teacher educators from another context by sharing exemplars from teacher-researchers in South Africa,’ explained Pithouse-Morgan.
‘The exemplars show how self-study has opened a platform for teachers to explore and bring forth the important social and schooling issues of equity and care. They demonstrate how teacher-researchers can become a potent force for context-appropriate, practitioner-led educational and social development through self-study. By sharing their research, the teachers who authored the exemplars can teach others about responding to social justice issues in education,’ she said.