Document Type



Institute for Educational Development, East Africa


Rural African classrooms are still practicing discourses and pedagogies that contribute towards students' continued underachievement and marginalization. The use of behaviourist-based pedagogical approaches and the exclusion of learners' socio-cultural experiences including their mother tongue (MT) still characterize most classroom practices. The use of classroom discourse that severely constrains opportunities for pupil participation and the development of higher order thinking skills has also been noted. This paper describes an intervention based on the principles of transformative and constructive developmental pedagogy designed to improve approaches to teaching and learning in a primary school in rural Zimbabwe. Examples of prevailing classroom practices organized on prescriptive behaviourist procedures serve as the backdrop to a description of the intervention. In a meeting negotiated with teachers at the outset of the project, feedback based on classroom observation was offered to the teachers and alternative approaches were suggested. The latter focused particularly on taking account of the local culture and pupils' own experiences and on the use of the MT. Examples of teachers embracing this approach are presented and the implications for the professional development of teachers are outlined.

Publication (Name of Journal)

Language, Culture and Curriculum