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7 Missionary Education and Pedagogical Practice Introduction The main focus of the previous chapters was on the philosophical and social/ cultural contexts of the teacher-centred pedagogical paradigm. This chapter and the next adopt a more historical approach to the evolution of teachercentredness in Botswana in particular and Africa in general. This chapter looks at how the colonial governments neglected education, leaving it to the missionaries. Their imported model of education was bureaucratic and premised on structures of domination and subordination, and it interacted productively with an authoritarian African cultural ambiance to engender and subsequently entrench a correspondingly bureaucratic and authoritarian pedagogical style. I focus on three aspects of the imported model, namely, its condescending conception of the child, the nature of religious knowledge and the embedded ideology of cultural supremacy. In the case of the Tswana for example, these aspects combined with a correspondingly authoritarian traditional education, a deficit view of the child and the active involvement of traditional chiefs in educational matters to promote authoritarianism in the schools.The existence of this correspondence challenges directly the popular notion that mass Western education conflicted with traditional African society. Proponents (e.g. Namuddu 1991) of this ‘incongruence thesis’ have tended to focus on the content of education at the expense of its form. There is no doubt that the content of missionary/ colonial education differed with, and aimed to obliterate any trace of traditional knowledge systems. For this reason, it was to be expected that the content of missionary education would not only differ from, but would also challenge traditional notions of knowledge. However, the proponents of Teaching and Learning in Context: Why Pedagogical Reforms Fail in Sub-Saharan Africa 124 this thesis ignore the form of education, and its subtle, hidden messages that are embedded in the ways classrooms are socially organized. And yet it is the form of education that is more powerful than its content. In terms of form there was synergy between mass Western education and traditional African education. Thus, in some ways, the supposed chasm between the two forms of education is exaggerated. Broadly, this and the next chapters assess the manner in which the historical development of education (taking Botswana as an example) might have helped shape classroom practices in schools. These chapters highlight the thread that binds together all the chapters of the book, namely that there is nothing value-neutral about pedagogical styles; the latter are products of the surrounding cultural, social and historical milieu. To this end, Giroux (1985) advises that: …. to understand the present…. educators must place all pedagogical contexts in a historical context in order to see clearly their genesis and development (Giroux 1985:xxiv). This chapter traces the historical development of primary and secondary education in Botswana from the time of British rule to independence in 1966. I then extrapolate from these educational developments their likely effects on pedagogy in the schools. As already stated, the pedagogical style characteristic of Botswana schools and classroom organisation is a product of cultural, social, economic and historical forces, and it has evolved over a period of time. It is now firmly embedded in our educational institutions to such an extent that it is almost a tradition. It is part of the teachers’ and students’ institutional biographies and they implicitly implement it in their day-to-day classroom activities. If education is to effectively transmit the ‘myths’ of the social structure in which it is embedded, it has to employ a pedagogical style that is compatible with society’s habit of thought. Educational Development in Botswana under British administration Botswana (then Bechuanaland) became a British Protectorate in 1885. However, the latter’s commitment to the protection of the territory was not matched by a commitment to develop it. Why did Britain offer protection to a territory it had no commitment to develop? A number of explanations have been proffered. One such explanation is that the British thought that the territory was just a desert with no exploitable resources.This view is undeniably true as the statement of Lord Derby, Colonial Secretary from 1882 to 1885, 125 indicates: ‘Bechuanaland is of no value to us . . . for any Imperial purposes it is of no consequence to us whether Boers or Native Chiefs are in possession’ (as quoted in Gossett 1986:143). However, to argue that British adventures in Africa were solely motivated by economic considerations would be an oversimplification of a complex issue. Gossett (1986) has added humanitarian and strategic motives to the economic...


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