Pacing of knowledge: Pedagogic code, pedagogic discourse, and teachers’ experiences

  • Devika Naidoo


There is sufficient evidence to suggest that post-apartheid curriculum reform has failed to produce the desired equity in performance. Research of classroom practice in curriculum reforms preceding the current curriculum and assessment policy statement (CAPS) showed very slow pacing of knowledge as a cause for poor performance. Amongst other complex changes the CAPS regulates pacing of knowledge. Adherence to prescribed CAPS pacing has been enforced in schools via monitoring tools by hierarchical management structures. This study sought to investigate the impact of the new pacing regime on teaching and learning. The study is framed by Bernstein’s theory (2003) that pacing carries invisible social class assumptions and cognitivist theory on policy implementation (Spillane, 2002) that teacher’s individual cognition is influenced by situated cognition and policy signals. How does the new pacing regime impact the pedagogic code and pedagogic discourse in lessons? What are teachers’ views of how the new pacing regime impacts teaching and learning. Based in a qualitative research design and phenomenological case studies of classroom practice, in-depth interviews with teachers preceded by classroom observations provided the main data sources. Data analysis shows strong pacing of knowledge; impoverished pedagogic discourse and restricted opportunities to learn the elaborated pedagogic code. Curriculum policy on pacing and hierarchical monitoring of enactment of pacing bring to life a tyrannical regime of pacing that displaces the pedagogic goal of transmission and acquisition of specialized knowledge. Furthermore, teachers are solely focusing on keeping up with the prescribed pacing although they know that average and slower learners are not learning at that pace. These learners are being excluded from acquiring the elaborated pedagogic code, its abstract orientation to meaning and the specialization of their identity. It is highly possible that the current curriculum reform will fail to produce the desired social justice and equity in performance.


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