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Yesterday and Today

On-line version ISSN 2309-9003
Print version ISSN 2223-0386

Y&T  n.19 Vanderbijlpark  2018




Reimagining the journey - expanding the History curriculum to teach for depth of understanding in the FET Phase



Gordon J Brookbanks

Westerford High School, Rondebosch.




While the NSC CAPS does prescribe topics to be taught in the FET Phase of schooling, it does not restrict an educator from teaching additional topics or extending topics. It will be argued that there is a necessity for learners to develop a deeper understanding of prescribed CAPS topics in Grade 12, which includes the Research Task. It is suggested additional topics in the Grade 10 curriculum, such as aspects of the "American War of Independence"and the "Abolition of Slavery"in both the British Empire and United States of America need to be taught, and the sub-topic in Grade 11 on Pan-Africanism needs to be extended for this purpose. In asking why history educators do not extend aspects of the curriculum, this paper explains what and how expanding the history curriculum should be undertaken through the three-year programme of the FET Phase. More importantly, it is suggested this approach provides learners with insights to engage and contribute to current debates in South Africa and the world at large. The paper will conclude with recommendations on how this in-depth understanding can be incorporated into the curriculum.

Keywords: FET Phase; Additional Topics; Depth of Understanding; Background Context; Educator; Pan Africanism; History; Current Debates.




In posing the rhetorical question as to why history educators do not extend aspects of the curriculum in the Further Education and Training (FET) Phase, this paper intends to explain what and how expanding the history curriculum in the FET Phase is undertaken at a co-educational Quintile 5 government school, through what amounts to a three-year programme.

There is little doubt history educators may maintain the existing curriculum is overloaded, argue they are given limited teaching time for the subject, and they do not have the time to go into this proposed depth of teaching and learning. It is also acknowledged that there is a major challenge in getting learners to voluntarily read. However, it is important to note that in the site of study where educators are encouraged to develop a comprehensive knowledge of the past, of the 186 learners in Grade 10 (2018), there are 115 who elected to study history. This is an indicator of the interest in the subject. Similarly, at the end of 2017, of the learners who wrote Grade 12 History, the seven year average of 81.4% for the subject was maintained1. This is also an indicator of the understanding of the subject.

While the National Senior Certificate (NSC) Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) (DBE, 2011) does prescribe topics to be taught in the FET Phase of History in schooling in South Africa, it does not prevent an educator from teaching additional topics or extending others.

Topics which it is suggested should be taught in Grade 10, and which were clustered under the "Quest for Liberty" theme in the previous curriculum, include aspects of the "American War of Independence" and the "Abolition of Slavery" in both the British Empire and United States of America. These additional topics are necessary to ground a deeper understanding for learners of prescribed CAPS (DBE, 2011) topics in both Grades 11 and 12. While introducing each additional and extended topic through the use of a timeline, which places events in chronological order for the learner, they are taught with a focus on the actions of ordinary people and their agency to seize freedom, where people themselves make history, as opposed to those in power making it happen. The primary focus on Clarkson as opposed to Wilberforce, when discussing the "Abolition of Slavery" in the British Empire, is a case in point. This topic is not included in the CAPS (DBE, 2011).

Without the benefit of having learnt the background context in Grade 10, the learners' limited understanding becomes apparent by Grade 12. In the November 2017 NSC final History examination, most candidates in the Western Cape province elected to answer Paper One Question Six for their essay choice - the "Civil Rights Movement" topic.2 Irrespective as to which explicit question they are responding to, candidates are expected to show an understanding of the various forms of civil rights' mobilisation and acts of civil disobedience. The 1963 March on Washington and Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech serve as an example here. King's speech requires an understanding of both aspects of the "American War of Independence" and the "American Civil War", with its aftermath. King's observation in his speech that "When the architects of our Republic wrote those magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir" (US National Archives & Records Administration, n.d.) has little meaning for a learner, as does "Five score years ago a great American in those symbolic shadow we stand today signed the Emancipation Proclamation" (US National Archives & Records Administration, n.d.), without the additional background context

Grade 10: Teaching for depth of understanding - the Declaration of Independence, the American War of Independence, and the USA Constitution



In order to teach the significance of the "American War of Independence" and the iconic wording of both Common Sense and the Declaration of Independence, a briefintroduction is required that includes the initial arrival of the British puritans, the increasing disposition of land from Native Americans, the introduction of slavery, and the Seven Year War with its aftermath. The British colonies being considered "royal property" and the colonists wanting a similar form of representation that existed for people in Britain is explained. This contextualises the teaching of the 1st Continental Congress in September 1774, the forming of a Continental Army under George Washington and with revolution in the air, the circulation of Thomas Paine's Common Sense and the endorsing of the Declaration of Independence during the Second Continental Congress on 4 July 1776.

The assertion by Thomas Paine that republicanism is the only choice that makes "common sense" and the wording of the Declaration of Independence are discussed in class. An understanding of both documents is necessary for learners when studying topics in the Grade 11 and 12 curricula. For example, the following words from the Declaration of Independence (US 1776) are claimed by and inspire African American civil rights activists in their 100 year struggle for first class citizenship in the United States (National Archive, Americas' Founding Documents, n.d):

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

From 1877, when laws of segregation were being implemented in the Southern States they were challenged by activists, culminating in the Supreme Court ruling of Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896 (Duignan, n.d). This ruling, arguing "separation" does not mean "unequal", resulted in a long struggle to achieve the rights enshrined in the Declaration. King refers to these words in 1963. Learners need this in-depth knowledge and contextual understanding for the Grade 12 Civil Rights Movement topic (DBE, 2011).

Similarly an understanding of the Declaration of Independence is relevant for learners to engage with the Grade 12 Black Power Movement topic (DBE, 2011). The 10th point of the Black Panthers "10 Point Programme" is a direct extraction from the opening two paragraphs of the 1776 Declaration of Independence (Black Panthers' Ten-Point Programme, Marxist Internet Archive, 2002):

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, - That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

We teach the decisive battle at Yorktown in October 1781, where Cornwallis was defeated by Washington's forces (half of whom were French soldiers aided by a French fleet of 24 ships and 1 700 guns off the coast), as well as the granting of independence to the former British colonies in 1782 as a helpful introduction to the CAPS-prescribed Grade 10 "French Revolution" topic (DBE, 2011). It helps to emphasise that independence did not translate into emancipation for slaves. We explain to our learners that slavery remained in the Southern States for another 100 years. It took a further 100 years to get legislated equality for all. Native Americans lost land with the westward expansion, political power remained in the hands of the wealthy (businessmen in the north and plantation owners in the south and only in 1830 was there political equality for all white men) and women had no political rights and their property was owned by their husbands.

This topic is concluded with our discussing in class the 1787 drafting of the US Constitution, George Washington being sworn in as the 1st President of the United States of America in 1789, and Congress adding 10 Amendments to the Constitution in 1791 which is explained to our learners is collectively known as the Bill of Rights protecting individual rights and freedoms. During the Constitutional Convention of 1787 contestation arose as to how the number of representatives from each state in Congress would be determined - i.e, would congressional representation be based on the total number of inhabitants of a state and, if so, are the number of slaves in a state included in the calculation even though they had no political rights? Eventually a compromise was reached in what became known as the "three-fifths clause" (Article 1, Section 2, of the US Constitution of 1787) which stated that for purposes of representation in Congress, enslaved blacks in a state would be counted as three-fifths of the number of white inhabitants of that state. The compromise gave slave-holding states of the South more representation than if only the free white population was counted and therefore a disproportionate influence on the Presidency, the Speakership of the House of Representatives, and the U.S. Supreme Court. We explain to our learners that these factors had a bearing on the consequent civil rights struggle.

An understanding of this 1787 compromise gives the learner the context of the speech of Stokely Carmichael in July 1967 in the Black Power Movement topic in Grade 12 in which he argued (Stokely, 1967, n.p.):

In the writings of the glorious Constitution, guaranteeing 'life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness' and all that other garbage, these were rights for white men only, for the black man was counted only as three fifths of a person. If you read the U.S. Constitution, you will see that this clause is still in there to this day - that the black man was three fifths of a man.

It is explained in class to our learners that the three-fifths clause remained in force until after the American Civil War. It was after the Civil War that the adoption of the 13th Amendment freed all enslaved people in the U.S., the 14thAmendment gave all African Americans full citizenship and the 15th Amendment granted African American men the right to vote. These amendments, we then explain to our learners, provided constitutional guarantees and the right for which the 100 year civil rights struggle was based on.

The U.S. Constitution also devolved political power to the lowest possible form of civic representation in the form of tiers of government - from a town level, up through the State, eventually to a federal level. This understanding is important for learners to grapple with answering the question why, following the "period of Reconstruction", laws of segregation could be passed in different towns and states in the South and which African American civil rights activists had to challenge in order to claim their constitutionally guaranteed first class citizenship.

Grade 10: Teaching for depth of understanding - Abolition of slavery in the British Empire

Having taught aspects of the additional topic of the "American War of Independence", followed by the CAPS prescribed topic of the "French Revolution", we introduce the "Abolition of Slavery" in the British Empire where developments towards two seminal legislative interventions of 1807 and 1833 are discussed - a topic which is not included in the CAPS (DBE, 2011).



The 1700s was the century of the The Enlightenment, the upwelling of ideas about human rights that eventually led to the "American War of Independence" and the "French Revolution". Yet surprisingly few people at the time, nor our learners today, saw or see a contradiction between freedom for whites and bondage for slaves (Hochschild, 2006). As Hochschild emphasises, the philosopher John Locke, whose ideas about governments arising from the consent of the governed had done so much to lay the foundation for the wording in the Declaration of Independence, invested £600 in the Royal African Company, whose RAC brand was seared onto the breasts of thousands of slaves. In France, Voltaire mocked slaveholders in Candide and other works, yet when a leading French slave ship owner offered to name a vessel after him, he accepted with pleasure. Hochschild clearly argues that Europeans did not link freedom for whites with slavery for black until the response to press gangs in England provided the hook for people who were mobilised by abolitionists.

This topic is therefore taught from the perspective that abolitionists were pioneers in forging a central tool of modern civil society, through a committee, to agitate for a humanitarian cause (Hochschild, 2006:106).

Having taught the "American War of Independence" to the Grade 10s, it is now possible to highlight that the 'first emancipation' of slaves by the British took place in this context. As Hochschild eloquently explains, when the first stirrings of rebellion came in 1775, the British were desperate to cause problems for the rebels and so they promised freedom to any American slave who deserted a rebel master and joined the British Army. The first 300 blacks who arrived were enlisted into the Royal Ethiopian Regiment and given British uniforms emblazoned with the provocative words "liberty to slaves". "The promise by the British did not come from wanting an end to slavery, but was a strategic maneuver to deprive the enemy of property" (Hochschild, 2006:98). A later British proclamation broadened the promise, pledging freedom to any slave, male or female, who deserted a rebel owner by crossing into British-held territory. When the war came to an end, with Britain losing, a key question on the table in Paris in late 1782 during peace talks was "what to do with the freed slaves" who had been evacuated to Nova Scotia (Canada)? This issue was only resolved through arbitration by the Tsar of Russia in 1826, when Britain agreed to pay the American slave owners or their heirs half the market value of their former slaves (Hochschild, 2006:103).

We highlight the "Zong" incident (1782) serving as a spark to ignite a response to slavery within Britain. In response to it and in outrage, Granville Sharp wrote a Letter to the Editor. This letter was read by Dr Peter Pickard who set the "questioning of slavery" as the subject for an essay competition, written in Latin, at the University of Cambridge. A student, Thomas Clarkson, submitted an essay and won the competition. He became impassioned with the issue, and was able to get support and assistance from the Quakers, who then gave organisational direction to what became a social movement grounded in a series of brilliant alliances. As Hochschild (2006) explains, the social structure of British society meant they needed an "insider", and William Wilberforce, the Member of Parliament for Hull, became that "insider".

Having taught the "French Revolution", it is emphasised that the inherently conservative British establishment feared sedition during this period which delayed progress for the abolition movement. A long struggle ensued and only in 1807 was the Slave Trade abolished and in 1833 the Emancipation Act passed, effective from 1834. We explain to our learners that by that time, of the 12 members of the original Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade which began its campaign fifty one years earlier, only Thomas Clarkson was still alive.



It is emphasised, in our class, that the real victory came on 1st August 1838, when nearly 800 000 black men, women and children throughout the British Empire officially became free - including here, in the Cape Colony. This provides helpful background context to the Grade 10 teaching of the CAPS (DBE, 2011) prescribed "Movement and Migration" topic of the curriculum as it relates to southern Africa. Slavery was still in place in the southern United States, in the Caribbean colonies of other European countries, in most of South America, and, in different forms in Russia, parts of Africa and the Islamic world.

Just as we had explained Hochschild's (2006) view that that few people saw a contradiction between freedom for whites and bondage for slaves in the context of the period of The Enlightenment, it is also important to contextualise that view in response to the passing of the Emancipation Act and people of Dutch descent moving into the interior of Southern Africa to seize their freedom, but at the expense of occupying land which had been inhabited by African ethnic groups.

Grade 10: Teaching for depth of understanding - the American Civil War, passing of the Emancipation Proclamation, and its aftermath



Aspects of the additional topic of the "American Civil War", with a particular emphasis on resistance by slaves which lead to the "Abolition of Slavery" in the United States with the passing of the Emancipation Proclamation (1863) as well as the position African Americans found themselves in its aftermath, is also taught in Grade 10. This topic is taught after the teaching of the "American War of Independence", the "French Revolution" (a prescribed CAPS topic which builds on insights gained through an understanding of the "American War of Independence") and the "Abolition of Slavery" in the British Empire.

When introducing this topic, learners need to understand when African slaves were first introduced into America (1619); where and how they were used; how slaves became part of Southern landowners' wealth; the resistance by slaves to achieve their freedom, and the knowledge that by 1860 there were 4 million slaves of African descent in the Southern States of the USA. They also need to understand that in the Northern States, which had industrialised, the economy was based on wage labour.

A visual depiction of those States which had the highest percentage of the slave population is useful for learners. It reinforces the impact and legacy of slavery on African Americans in the Southern States.

Once the "American War of Independence" with both westward expansion and the forming of new states has been taught, then the tension over the balance of power which resulted in the establishment of the Republican Party, with the specific goal of preventing the extension of slavery, can be explained. A description of over 300 slave rebellions before 1860, the emergence of the abolition movement in the North in the 1830s, the significant role of former slaves in gradually igniting a moral consciousness through the voices of people such as Frederick Douglass and Sojourner Truth, and the role of the Underground Railroad are elaborated on in class. This gives a context for the secession of South Carolina and ten other Southern States forming the Confederacy in 1861. This kick-started the Civil War. We then briefly discuss the conflicting opinions about what caused the secession and Civil War itself.

Following on from this, emphasis is given to explaining Lincoln's changing views on slavery between his First Inaugural Address on 4th March 1861 and the passing of the Emancipation Proclamation on 13th December 1863 (The American Presidency Project,1999, n.d.):

I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.

It is highlighted that at this early stage of his presidency Lincoln supported a pro-slavery Bill. This Bill could have become the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution. It is discussed in class that this could have resulted had the Civil War not broken out. Lincoln agreed to admit New Mexico to the Union as a slave state, he supported ideas for the deportation of African Americans to Central America, and he returned escaped slaves to their Southern owners early on in the Civil War.

As the Civil War progressed, Lincoln's stance on slavery shifted, based on military rather than moral considerations (Foner, 2011). The explanation of this shift is addressed in the context of his August 1862 statement (New York Times, 1862:1):

My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any salve I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union.

We explain to our classes, the passing of the Emancipation Proclamation on 1st January 1863, which stated that slaves were "forever free", was therefore rationalised on both military grounds, as well as for foreign relations reasons. Lincoln hoped it would spark a slave uprising in the South, which it did. Many slaves did flee to the North which did drain the South of a labour source, and it also prevented Britain, in part, from recognising the Confederacy as a trading partner. Here we draw on the learners' background knowledge to the "Abolition of Slavery" in the British Empire and the passing of the Emancipation Act through the British House of Commons in 1833.

Reasons for the industrialised North winning the Civil War by 1865 are summarised in our classes as follows: the North had double the population of the South with industries better able to supply its army; a good railway network transported troops, goods and military equipment; and a navy to blockade ports of the Confederacy cut supplies to the South.

The aftermath of the Civil War, particularly in relation to the position of African Americans in the Southern States, then becomes the link into both the Grade 11 and 12 curricula. It is explained to our learners that the end of slavery did not bring an end to poverty or discrimination for African Americans in the Southern State or the forming of the Ku Klux Klan in Tennessee in 1866. The relatively brief "period of Reconstruction" (1865-1877), during which Northern officials (referred to as "Carpetbaggers") oversaw the rebuilding of the economy in the Southern States, organised elections for new state governments and helped with establishing schools for now free African Americans is described in class. After this "period of Reconstruction" and the return to the North of the seconded officials, we explain in class that conservative Southerners were again elected into positions of civic authority where laws of segregation (referred to as Jim Crow Laws) were passed.

An explanation that the passing of laws of segregation in the southern states were challenged by African Americans, in what becomes a 100 year civil rights struggle in the United States for first class citizenship rights, rounds off our teaching of this topic. African Americans argued their right to equality was entrenched in both the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution - "all people are born equal". One legal challenge in the civil rights struggle against laws of segregation went before the Supreme Court of the United States in 1896 (Williams, n.d). The Court arrived at a decision in what is known as the Plessy v. Ferguson judgment. To the chagrin of civil rights activists the US Supreme Court found that "separate" did not mean "unequal', and therefore concluded that the laws of segregation were not in conflict with the US Constitution. Learners are then informed that in their Grade 12 curriculum ("Civil Rights Movement" topic) the eventual reversal of this Supreme Court ruling through the commitment of civil rights activists will be discussed.

Grade 11: Drawing on the Grade 10 foundation to develop on the Grade 11 curriculum

We introduce the first topic of the Grade 11 curriculum (DBE, 2011) in the 4th term of Grade 10. In addressing the question "What were the consequences when pseudo-scientific ideas of Race became integral to government policies and legislation in the 19th and 20th centuries"?, we unpack the theory of pseudo-Scientific Racism, Social Darwinism and Eugenics. We then use the case studies of Namibia, Nazi Germany, Australia, and South Africa to explain the application of the theory of pseudo-Scientific Racism as serving to justify and rationalise colonialism, race-based policies and legislation as well as the agency of response thereto.



We extend the topic of "Pan-Africanism" in the Grade 11 curriculum. Voices from the African diaspora in response to the "Colonial Question", race-based policies and legislation are explored.

We have elected to focus on four voices from the African diaspora - Booker T. Washington, WEB Du Bois, Henry Sylvester Williams, and Marcus Garvey. In the case of Washington and emphasising the geo-political circumstances of the time we consider his gradualist economic strategy, establishment of the Tuskegee Institute grounded in the doctrine of economic advancement, acceptance of disenfranchisement, and conciliation with the white South, and his Atlanta Comprise speech of 1895. This leads on to a discussion of Du Bois's gradualist political strategy, his initial support of Washington's Atlanta Compromise speech, involvement in the 1st Pan-African Conference in 1900, 'double consciousness' and the notion of the "talented tenth", and founding of the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) in 1909. We discuss the contribution of Henry Sylvester Williams and his involvement in the 1st Pan-African Conference, emphasising his meeting Alice Victoria Kinloch in the United Kingdom which Ngcukaitobi (2018) highlights, a black woman from South Africa, and the insights she gave him which placed Southern Africa and the conditions of blacks on the agenda for the nascent Pan-Africanism movement. It is this meeting and engagement which led Williams to travel to Southern Africa in 1903 to practice law. He was the first black person to be admitted to the bar in the Cape Colony. We then teach about Marcus Garvey and his founding of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), his belief in African economic and political independence and his call on all in the African diaspora to return to Africa, with the slogan "Africa for the Africans".

The 5th Pan-African Conference in 1945, and the background to and involvement of Kwame Nkrumah in organising the Conference, becomes the link between voices from the African diaspora and voices out of Africa. We explain Nkrumah's launch of the secret organisation known as the Circle, which was dedicated to the liberation of Africa and the establishment of a Union of Socialist African Republics, his return to the Gold Coast, establishment of the Convention People's Party (CPP), and his becoming the first sub-Saharan African leader of decolonised Africa with Ghana's independence in 1957. Nkrumah's statement at the time of independence, that "our independence is meaningless unless it is linked up with the total liberation of the African continent" (Ghana, 2017, n.p.) and his advocating Pan-Africanism provides the context in which the significance of the 1958 All-African People's Conference to the organisational form of African Nationalism in South Africa is discussed. Having introduced both Anton Lembede and Robert Sobukwe to our classes, we explain that some members of the African National Congress (ANC) were uncomfortable with the endorsement of the 1955 Freedom Charter in South Africa. Nkrumah's views and the 1958 Conference which advocated Pan-Africanism contributed to the breakaway by Africanists to form the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) in 1959. This forms part of the Grade 11 topic addressing Apartheid South Africa in the 1940s to 1960s.

Grade 11 to 12: The expanded Pan-Africanism topic creates a foundation to develop the Research Task for the Grade 12 curriculum

We believe that by introducing both Pan-Africanist voices from the African diaspora and those out of Africa during and after the 5th Pan African Conference, a solid foundation is provided for introducing our Research Task as a CAPS (DBE, 2011) prescribed part of the Grade 12 curriculum.

This Research Task, as we have formulated it, requires the learner to identify any person from the African disapora or out of Africa, research the person's historical context and explain the person's philosophy or articulated ideas. They then argue the extent to which the person's views influenced the philosophy of Black Consciousness as expressed by Steve Biko (Paper Two, Question 1). The learners work in pairs to research both the person and his / her ideas from the African diaspora or out of Africa, as well as the philosophy of Black Consciousness as expressed by Steve Biko and the extent to which their subject of research influenced such thinking. They present their findings in the form of a PowerPoint presentation to the class. This part of the task is assessed by a rubric out of 50 marks. They then take the research they have done together and individually write an analytical essay in answer to the following explicit question, which is assessed according to the Gr 12 CAPS (DBE, 2011) essay marking matrix out of 50 marks: In what ways did (your person researched) influence Black Consciousness thinking as expressed by Steve Biko?

In order to assist the learners in meeting the requirement of the Research Task we do teach an additional module referred to as "Black Consciousness Movement: Its philosophical foundations and political influence"', which draws on the work of Mabogo P More (2017).

The three-year programme of teaching the curriculum through inclusion of additional and extended topics provides the learners with a depth of understanding of the past, enabling them to engage and contribute to current debates in South Africa and the world at large. It is this understanding of the past which enables them to engage with insight, into their Grade 12 Research Task and other forms of Assessment.



The following recommendations are offered to contribute towards a depth of understanding of the teaching and learning of history in the FET Phase through which learners develop a comprehensive knowledge of the past:

History educators need to read, read, and undertake more reading. The more we read into different topics, the more we are able to draw the past into the present and form linkages between different topics. A reliance on textbooks does not enable us to teach for depth.

In South Africa we are gifted post-1994, and more particularly in the recent past, with people writing their own stories. These stories about the past need to be incorporated into the teaching of the history curriculum in the FET Phase. Copies of the books, as they become available, must not only be on the shelf of our school libraries, but relevant extracts should be included in both learner notes and assessments.

While many individual stories are being published, the authors of such stories should be approached to tell their stories in our history classrooms. Learners enjoy nothing more than a 'new face' in the classroom where an individual's story makes history seem that much more real to them. This requires of the individual history educator knowing the story and making contact with the author.

As we individually prepare learner notes on additional or extended topics, it is important for us to understand our collective responsibility in the teaching and learning of history. This requires of us to make available such learner notes to other educators. It is suggested this could be best facilitated through the respective Districts, provincial Education Departments, or the Department of Basic Education (History). Through the use of Google Drive we do share learner notes, in the form of PowerPoint presentations, which are available to those who wish to use them in our District.

Whether the depth of understanding through teaching of the three year programme in the FET Phase is easily transferable between Quintiles, where the language of instruction becomes an issue, requires further investigation. While the learner notes and assessments have been tested and implemented in our Quintile 5 school, they have also been used this year as part of an intervention for Grade 12 history learners at a nearby Quintile 2 co-educational government school. In the teaching of the Grade 12 learners, their lack of depth of understanding soon became apparent, which required the glaring omissions in their previous Grade 10 and 11 years being synthesised and then taught. The results of their assessment in the June exams have yet to be analysed.

The why of teaching for depth of understanding requires regular conversation and engagement between educators of history at an FET Phase.



While the NSC CAPS does prescribe topics to be taught in the FET Phase of schooling, it does not restrict an educator from teaching additional topics or extending topics. It is suggested that by expanding on the what, why, how in the history curriculum, learners are provided with useful insights that provided a deeper grounding for their understanding of Grade 12 topics and will equip them to engage with and contribute to current debates in South Africa and the world at large.

Example of a Grade 12 Research Task, which draws on the additional and expanded topics taught in Grade 10 and 11



Example of the rubric used in assessing the PowerPoint presentation of research undertaken




Bigelow, B 2012. Rethinkin'Lincoln on the 150th birthday of the Emancipation Proclamation. Available at Accessed on 05 April 2018.         [ Links ]

Black Panthers' Ten-Point Programme 2002. Marxist Internet Archive. Available at Accessed on 18 July 2018.         [ Links ]

Department of Basic Education (DBE) 2011. National Curriculum Statement (NCS), Curriculum and Assessment Policy, Grades 10-12. Department of Basic Education; Pretoria. Available at Accessed on 19 July 2018.         [ Links ]

Duignan, B n.d. Encyclopedia Britannica, Plessy v Ferguson, Case Law (1896). Available at Accessed on 18 July 2018.         [ Links ]

Foner, E 2011. The fiery trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery. New York: Norton.         [ Links ]

Ghana, 2017. Full text, First independence speech by Kwame Nkrumah. Available at Accessed on 19 July 2018.         [ Links ]

Hochschild, A 2006. Bury the chains. London: Pan Books.         [ Links ]

More, MP 2017. Biko: Philosophy, identity and liberation. Pretoria: HSRC Press.         [ Links ]

National Archives, America's Founding Documents, n.d. Preamble. Available at Accessed on 15 April 2018.         [ Links ]

New York Times 1862. A letter from President Lincoln, Reply to Horace Greenley. Available at Accessed on 19 July 2018.         [ Links ]

Ngcukaitobi, T 2018. The land is ours, South Africa's first black lawyers and the birth of constitutionalism. South Africa: Penguin Books.         [ Links ]

Stokely, C 1967. The Black Power Movement and "the savagery of white America". Available at Accessed on 18 July 2018.         [ Links ]

The American Presidency Project 1999. Abraham Lincoln, Inaugural address March 4 1861. Available at Accessed on 19 July 2018.         [ Links ]

US National Archives & Records of Administration n.d. Speech by the Rev Martin Luther King at the March on Washington. Available at Accessed on 15 April 2018.         [ Links ]

Williams, Y n.d. Plessy v Ferguson (History online). Available at Accessed on 19 July 2018.         [ Links ]



1 The school is well resourced in terms of both teaching staff and teaching aids. The school, while aspiring to provide an environment in which learners develop as well-rounded and potentially active citizens, the FET Phase options are offered to ensure learners have the opportunity to continue with tertiary studies.
2 At the start of each academic year the Subject Head of History at a high school receives a diagnostic analysis of the learners' choice of questions answered and the average results per choice. This argument is premised on this diagnostic analysis of 2017 provided by the Department of Basic Education.

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