Newsletter 33 Three Golden Ratios

In the South African context the following three “Golden ratios” makes a significant impact on schooling, learning and teaching. Domestic and international research strongly suggests a contingent link between the variables implied by these “Golden Ratios” and sound learning and teaching. Let me introduce these ratios to the reader – these ratios have previously been mentioned in the literature on this website. Most literature and sentiment use these ratios to “blame and shame” – my approach is more developmental and wants to add to a greater understanding and appreciation in order to devise appropriate strategies for betterment;

The First - 65:35

In poor communities teachers spent on average 35% of teaching time on pastoral duties in various forms. Imagine how this will impact on your curriculum implementation and in particular coverage, pacing, sequencing and consolidation. Now imagine the double whammy – this ration coupled with the fact that in poorer communities the school makes a significant impact towards learner success. Your next door neighbor at the more affluent school are blessed with a double endowment – spending 100% on curriculum implementation with the added legacy that school does not play that significant impact on learner success.

The Second - 50:50

The District Office has failed our schools according to popular domestic research. There are many contributing variables; the ration 50:50 is but one of these systemic constraints which needs to be overcome. District professionals face schools for monitoring and support fifty percent (50%) of the available time. The rest are systemically taken up for vertical compliance, control, planning, budget constraints and transport.  This severely constraint the provisioning of curriculum monitoring and support.

The Third - 20:60:20

South Africans have had a long debate on whether teaching is a profession or work and whether teachers can be best described as workers and not professionals…this debate has no conclusion. My opinion is that teaching and teachers include a bit-of-both. In any system there is a bulk of teachers (60%) who engages with the profession for merely purposes of work – they come to school to teach, earn a living and there is no shame in that. This majority requires the text and their skills to perform their duty. Then there is the bad apples (20%) which we need to root out – they shame the rest of us. On the opposite side you have the 20% of teachers who love to innovate, experiment and review their learning and teaching repeatedly and feel comfortable to share best practices and facilitate learning and teaching. It this 20% that the system must encourage to do more and better and create an enabling environment for them to flourish. 

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