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Performative Praxis

Teacher Identity and Teaching in the Context of HIV/AIDS

Mary Jean Baxen

It is widely recognized that the South African government’s exemplary HIV/AIDS education policy is not making the behaviour-changing impact that it ought. Why is this? What is actually happening in the school classroom?
In this book, Jean Baxen makes an important contribution towards understanding the complex interface between the HIV/AIDS education curriculum and what and how teachers are teaching in the classroom. Bringing Judith Butler’s theory of performativity to bear in an analysis of the pedagogic practice of a number of teachers in the Western Cape and Mpumalanga, the author shows how teachers’ personal conception of their role and identity as educators plays a vitally important role in filtering and shaping the classroom transmission of key information and attitudes.

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Introduction 27

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27 Introduction This section outlines the methodological decisions made in crafting a research plan to examine factors shaping teachers’ understanding and experience of teaching sexuality and HIV/AIDS. A study of this nature requires an approach that takes into account how people come to know and understand themselves; an approach that pays particular attention to constructions of social reality in the setting in which it occurs. In seek- ing to understand the meanings and interpretations people give to ex- periences, such an approach must not only allow for the inclusion of people’s voices, but also be sensitive to the discursive spaces in which meaning is constructed and mediated. In short a methodological orien- tation was required that could enable me to illustrate how subjects come to know and the levels of influence that shape this. 28

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