Pedagogical justice and student engagement in South African schooling: working with the cultural capital of disadvantaged students

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 4
  • Abstract:

    This article is a conceptual consideration of what could be regarded as pedagogical justice for disadvantaged students in South African schools. Combining Bourdieu’s social reproduction account of education with elements of Bernstein’s consideration of the internal dynamics that constitute the pedagogic relay, the article considers the pedagogical terms upon which these students can meaningfully be engaged in their school going. Such engagement, I argue, has to contend with the cultural resistance displayed by disadvantaged students towards their schooling which they view as being against their classcultural interests. The article suggests that teachers’ pedagogical practices at the site of the school present one key space to leverage the socially just pedagogies necessary for productive school engagement. I consider the conceptual bases upon which such a pedagogical approach can proceed. I advance the argument that student engagement ought to proceed on the basis of a combination of a ‘social relations of pedagogies’ orientation, on the one hand, and what I refer to as an ‘explicit pedagogies’ approach to recontextualisation of work, on the other. It is the main argument of this article that pedagogical justice for disadvantaged students lies in providing a pedagogical scaffold between their life world knowledge’s and accessing the school knowledge codes. Such an approach supports induction into the vertical logic of the school code as central to students’ school success, but it argues for pedagogical incorporation of horizontal knowledge’s central to securing active engagement with their schooling.