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Preface The issue of pedagogical reform first attracted my attention in the early 1990s when I registered as a doctoral student with the School of Education, University of Birmingham, England. Initially, I had wanted to do my doctoral research on how best to teach map reading skills to secondary school students in Botswana. It was not long before I realized that the question I wanted to address was the wrong one: if I wanted to come up with improved techniques of teaching any aspect of geography, I would first need to establish why geography teachers approached map reading the way they did. As I worked further on re-focusing my study, I abandoned the limited area of map-reading skills in favour of the broader question of why geography teachers in Botswana schools approached the teaching of the subject the way they did. The result was an ethnographic study entitled ‘A Socio-Cultural Analysis of Geography Classroom Practice in Botswana Senior Secondary Schools’. The approach to the study was multi-disciplinary, benefitting from insights in areas as diverse as political theory, sociology, anthropology and cultural studies. The approach helped me appreciate much better the complexities of teaching, specifically that teaching is both a moral and ethical activity and that it has both temporal and spatial dimensions. In short, I got to appreciate the contextual nature of pedagogy. As I analysed the socio-cultural context of Botswana, I came to the conclusion that transferring learner-centred pedagogy to that context was never going to be easy. It had been tried before and efforts were still continuing, but none seemed to have borne fruit. That there was an important relationship between pedagogy and context became clear to me. Increasingly, I became critical of the view of pedagogy as technique, and realized that pedagogy was problematic, given its embeddedness in the socialcultural /political/economic context. In other words, pedagogies are products of socio-cultural contexts. My research on the relationship between pedagogy and context resulted in the publication of a series of articles. ‘Pedagogical classroom practice and the Teaching and Learning in Context: Why Pedagogical Reforms Fail in Sub-Saharan Africa xvi social context: the case of Botswana’, which appeared in the International Journal of Educational Development, 17 (2) in 1997, was my first articulation of this social embeddedness of pedagogy. In the article, I demonstrate how teacher-centred pedagogy has been historically engendered by the enveloping Botswana social structure. In turn, the pedagogy perpetuates that social structure. That is, the pedagogy is as essential to the perpetuation of the social structure as the latter is to the reproduction of the (teacher-centred) pedagogy. Thus, the two are dialectically related. ‘Geography students as constructors of classroom knowledge and practice: a case study from Botswana’ appeared in the Journal of Curriculum Studies, Vol. 36 (1) in 2004. In this article I problematised teacher-centred pedagogy further by demonstrating how the pedagogy is co-constructed by teachers and students on the basis of their epistemological viewpoints and expectations of one another’s roles. These agents work collaboratively to protect and police the boundaries of the pedagogy. The agents have vested interests in this pedagogical style, meaning that reforming the style can never be expected to be easy. In 2003, ‘International aid agencies, learner-centred pedagogy and political democratization: a critique’ was published in Comparative Education, Vol. 11 (2). In this article, I sought to demonstrate the interface of education – through the mediation of learner-centred pedagogy – and capitalist democracy. The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 saw international aid agencies coming out explicitly in support of learner-centred pedagogy. Why the explicit support at that historical juncture? I contend in the article that in the 1960s and 1970s, generally, education was viewed in technicist terms. That changed in the 1980s with the ascendancy of neo-liberalism as the dominant development paradigm, a paradigm that established a necessary relationship between political democratization and economic development. Education was identified as a potent vehicle for delivering capitalist democracy across the world. And learner-centred pedagogy, given its democratic pretensions, was singled out by international aid agencies as the nexus between education and the broader principle of capitalist democracy. That set the stage for the globalization of the pedagogy, a relentless effort by international development agents to this day. Given this political/economic nature of learner-centred pedagogy, any continued treatment of pedagogy as technique has no basis whatsoever. Neo-liberalism has entrenched itself as a dominant discourse...


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