Newsletter 180 - Standards for South African Education - SACE Teaching Standards

Newsletter 180 - Standards for South African Education - SACE Teaching Standards

By now we are all aware of the ten teaching standards advertised by SACE. It gives the appearance of a “breyani” of teacher and teaching competences, a hint of socio-political theory and a complete lack of philosophy and a structured change theory. One of South Africa’s most foremost academic, Prof Volmink has repeated asked for a philosophical premise for our approach to educational transformation. Without it; it is like the blind leading the rest of us in the dark.

There is nothing wrong with a set of teaching and competent standards but it lacks the ideological foundation for education transformation; like putting the cart before the horse. During discourse with JET it was clear that there are forces who believe education is best served with practical action (standardized actions with an easy measurement) than philosophical rhetoric. This view is myopic and lacks theoretical basis for progressive action, very neo-liberal if I may add.


“The word philosophy is derived from two Greek words. The first word, philo, means “love.” The second, sophy, means “wisdom.” Literally, then, philosophy means “love of wisdom”. Each individual has an attitude toward life, children, politics, learning, and previous personal experiences that informs and shapes their set of beliefs. Although you may not be conscious of it, this set of beliefs, or personal philosophy, informs how you live, work, and interact with others. What you believe is directly reflected in both your teaching and learning processes. It is important to understand how philosophy and education are interrelated. In order to become the most effective teacher you can be, you must understand your own beliefs, while at the same time empathizing with others.”(Internet 2018)

What are the major branches of philosophy? 

  1. Metaphysics considers questions about the physical universe and the nature of ultimate reality.
  2. Epistemology examines how people come to learn what they know.
  3. Axiology is the study of fundamental principles or values.
  4. Logic pursues the organization of the reasoning process. Logic can be divided into two main components: deductive reasoning, which takes general principles and relates them to a specific case; and inductive reasoning, which builds up an argument based on specific examples.

What are the major schools of thought in philosophy? 

  1. Idealism can be divided into three categories: classical, religious, and modern.
  2. Realism, the school of thought founded by Aristotle, believes that the world of matter is separate from human perceptions. Modern realist thought has led to the “blank slate” notion of human capabilities.
  3. Pragmatism believes that we should select the ideas, actions, and consequences with the most desirable outcome, as well as learning from previous experiences to achieve desirable consequences.
  4. Postmodernism and existentialism focus on intricate readings of texts and social and political conventions, examining existing structures for flaws. Essentially, they focus heavily on the present, and on understanding life as we know it.

What are the major philosophies of education?  The major philosophies of education can be broken down into three main types:

    1. teacher-centered philosophies -  Essentialism is currently the leading style of public education in the United States. It is the teaching of basic skills that have been proven over time to be needed in society. Perennialism focuses on the teaching of great works.
    2. student-centered philosophies - There are three types of student-centered philosophies of education. Progressivism focuses on developing the student’s moral compass. Humanism is about fostering each student to his or her fullest potential. Constructivism focuses on using education to shape a student’s world view.
    3. society-centered philosophies - There are two types of socially-centered philosophies of education. Reconstructionism is the perspective that education is the means to solve social problems. Behaviorism focuses on cultivating behaviors that are beneficial to society (Internet 2018)

SACE ten teaching standards as proposed for the teaching profession;


1. Teaching is based on an ethical commitment to the learning and well-being of all learners.

2. Teachers collaborate with others to support teaching, learning and their professional development.

3. Teachers support social justice and the redress of inequalities within their educational institutions and society more broadly.

4. Teaching requires that well managed and safe learning environments are created and maintained.

5. Teaching is fundamentally connected to teachers’ understanding of the subject/s they teach.

6. Teachers make thoughtful choices about their teaching that lead to learning gains for all.

7. Teachers understand that language plays an important role in teaching and learning.

8. Teachers are able to plan, organise coherent sequences of learning experiences.

9. Teachers understand how their subjects are taught and learnt effectively.

10. Teaching involves monitoring and assessing learning.