"My recent involvement in the 2nd Lesson Study seminar hosted by the Eastern Cape Department of Education (ECDoE) rekindled my long-held belief that we still have a cohort of highly committed and enthusiastic mathematics teachers who take their professional development very seriously" said Dr David Sekao. It was indeed an edifying experience to witness and be part of such a quintessential teacher collaboration exercise through the Lesson Study. This edifying experience made me understand, in a better context, what Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu meant when Sir David Frost (BBC News, 2005) remarked that he “… always thought of [him] as an optimist”; and his response was “I've never been an optimist. I am a prisoner of hope,…” Despite all the commentaries, justifiable or not, from numerous education commentators connoting that generally teachers (novice and experienced) do not have the requisite knowledge and skills to teach mathematics, I have witnessed how teachers, universities and the education sector can work together to achieve a common goal of bolstering teacher development. I have witnessed teachers oozing with confidence as they teach while being observed by their peers. I have observed how teachers confidently reflected on their teaching with the quest to improve their lessons. Given this experience, I have no room for a feeling of pessimism and despondency but to become a Prisoner of Hope too!
The Lesson Study seminar was held on 11-12 October 2018 at Sterkspruit Education District and was attended by about 220 delegates who observed the processes of teaching mathematics lessons (Grades 3, 5, 7 and 9) and their respective post-reflection sessions. Among the delegation were Mr Phillip Dikgomo, Siyalo Qanya and Ms Sindiswa Mcosana (all from the Department of Basic Education), Mr Akira Oshima and Ms Junko Funaki (both from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)), and academics from University of Pretoria, Rhodes University and University of Free State.
The success of the 2nd Lesson study seminar is attributed to the capable and visionary leadership of Ms U Nqandela (Director: General Education and Training) and Ms N Dabula (Mathematics Coordinator), both based at ECDoE Head Office. Their decision to decentralise the hosting of the Provincial Lesson Study Seminars (i.e. allowing districts to host the seminars on rotational basis every year) promotes ownership by teachers and district officials. Walking down the memory lane to recollect how the Lesson Study evolved from the “How I Teach?” initiative in the province and the associated trepidation of transiting from How I Teach to the Lesson Study can only mean one thing: dynamite comes in small packages. All the universities, including the University of Pretoria, which were present at the 2nd Eastern Cape provincial Lesson Study Seminar, are looking forward to the 3rd Lesson Study Seminar which will be hosted by Mthatha District in 2019.