I was shocked when I was told that I would be teaching Grade 12 Mathematical Literacy in 2022 (aka my first year of teaching). As with most of my challenges and my desire to have a job and my excitement of the nature of my job, I said yes.
From my personal experience, I knew that there is close to nothing new in matric. So much of the exam papers test higher order knowledge that stems from basic level skills that one would have gotten from Grade 8 to 11, especially in Maths Lit (lowkey scary how repetitive the work is). So, I naturally thought this was going to be my easy class where I am just consolidating and brushing up on some skills. That was not always the case, and that made me hyper-nervous.
I learned that being a matric teacher is not something to take lightly, especially not in my work environment. Of course, the entire school’s reputation rests on these young adult’s lives. As a teacher, you want to give them your all, in the limited time that you have (6 months, and it goes by so quickly).
As I was reading part of the Minister of Education’s speech, on paper there is mention of initiatives that the class of 2022 were a part of since 2011 or so, in terms of interventions to help the learners as they are being tracked. She highlights that these are things the Department of Basic Education (DBE) initiated, and these are owing to the successes of the matric class of 2022. Maybe to some extent, there is some truth. However, what I know in practice that these initiatives do not reach the majority of learners and schools. The Minister had not visited the majority of schools in the country (as she claims to go around). My learners, as I taught them throughout the entire year, I could notice that they did not receive any intervention or received very little. It makes me made that the DBE inflates themselves and overexaggerates things while also lowering standards as universities and other higher education institutions increase their standards.
My school did not receive outstanding matric results, unfortunately. My learners suffered great losses throughout their matric year. I would be devastated in their shoes, having to withstanding all their sufferings. I wish I could rewrite their year for them, help them avoid all the pain and the trauma that life threw at them. It doesn’t feel enough to just say, “I feel incredibly sorry for all of that.” From my side, I tried to maintain my stability for their benefit. I tried to be there for them constantly, heck, I tried to help in the areas where there was loss, but I wouldn’t have been enough because they needed those teachers to stay.
In my own subject area, I received an over 80% pass rate (of course, not sure what a pass is? Is it the standard 30%, or did someone show up with a 70 – or 80%). I’m grateful that 20/24 learners passed (one learner didn’t write) because when I started with them, the odds were not in anyone’s favour. They had major learning losses but high memory retention (cram, pass method). There were those bright sparks in my class willing to upgrade their ways once realising that this is no longer a game. Then, there were those who thought they could continue on the path not leading them to success. And always people in between testing both waters. As with any learner in any school, I assume.
I imagine that I’m not the only teacher or part of the only school that experiences challenges of this magnitude. We cannot hold onto the past, we need to move forward and work towards not repeating the same mistakes.
Being a matric teacher had enjoyable moments, I must admit. Some of the conversations outside of class or subject content were insightful, enjoyable, and funny. I will cherish those in hopes that whatever result they got, they can still achieve their hearts desires whether they remain the same or change over time (which is completely okay).
I am a matric teacher again. Exciting!! I’m looking forward to our year ahead together in the Maths Lit classroom. I wish for them all the success, knowing that success will come with hardship and sacrifice. It will be worth it. I know it, I hope they believe it.
Thank you for your time. Much love and many blessings!