Welcome to the Fundisa for Change Life Orientation Courses –
Engaging with Climate Change
Life Orientation was established as a subject to help learners develop skills to conduct positive interactions. It also helps them to contribute to the family and community while they live according to the values taken up in the South African Constitution. The youth learn to exercise their rights and responsibilities, respect others’ rights and show tolerance for cultural and religious diversity to build a democratic society. Life Orientation supports learners and enables them to make well-informed, morally responsible, and justified decisions about their health and environment. They are encouraged to gain and exercise the necessary life skills, react to challenges, and play an active and responsible role in the economy and society. The National Curriculum describes Life Orientation as a holistic subject that attempts to develop the learner on all levels (DBE, 2011).
Life Orientation is an essential subject to implement a solution-orientated process of learning-led change approach to tackle matters that concern self, our community and the world situated in wellbeing for sustainable living and sustainable livelihoods. However, as a Life Orientation teacher, it can be challenging to work within such a framework with various constraints such as class sizes, time, understanding of the subject needs and even the context of specific topics within the curriculum. A study in the North-West province found evidence that there are various problems in Life Orientation practice. The study indicates that Life Orientation as a subject is not succeeding in accomplishing its aims as specified by the National Curriculum (Jacobs, 2011). Weaknesses outlined in Life Orientation practices include
- negative attitudes by both learners and teachers, and
- the fact that the theory of the National Curriculum Statement and practice are far removed from each other.
The study recommended that Life Orientation teachers and teacher educators take responsibility for engaging learners on Life Orientation challenges. In other words, they need to start taking this learning area/subject more seriously, thereby instilling in the learners an appreciation for the value and benefits of Life Orientation (Jacobs, 2011). It was also noted that learners’ opinions should be considered when deciding on themes. It seems to be very important that the learners have a chance to let their voices be heard in this matter, and this method of teaching aligns with Education for Sustainable Development principles. Therefore, as Life Orientation teachers we need to find other ways to engage with learners and focus on co-engaged learning and teaching practices.
In Geography and other sciences where knowledge of the facts of climate change tends to be at the forefront. The Life Orientation curriculum can instead mediate personal and social orientation in a changing world where climate change has emerged as a matter of concern to be addressed by us as teachers and teacher educators within our learning communities. The Fundisa for Change Life Orientation Courses are not just courses on climate change and Life Orientation but rather courses that sets out to help you as a teacher, explore the question of learning in response to the social-ecological and politico-economic attributes of a world transitioning to a new socio-economic and political order in response to climate challenge. These courses intend to support, Life Orientation teachers, teacher educators and learners will have to learn to clarify and respond to climate change together.
All Engaging with Climate Change Life Orientation Courses focus on enhancing three essential aspects of teaching:
■ Knowing your Subject,
■ Improving your Teaching Practice, and
■ Improving your Assessment Practice.
(Fundisa for Change, 2022)