SA Journal of Education, Vol 39, No 3 (2019)

Disciplinary practices in the early grades: Creating culturally responsive learning environments in South Africa

Chevonne Prins, Ina Joubert, Judite Ferreira-Prevost, Melanie Moen


Discipline is essential to learning, but in culturally diverse groups it could become a challenge for teachers. Positive discipline, respect for human rights and the creation of a sense of belonging promotes culturally responsive and disciplined learners. This study investigated the social and cultural contexts of discipline in early grade South African classrooms from the perspective of the teachers. Nine teachers were interviewed through semi-structured interviews regarding their disciplinary strategies and cultural responsiveness. To ensure the trustworthiness and credibility of the findings, teacher participants provided photographs of the classroom layouts, observation checklists, and field notes of the disciplinary practices implemented in the classrooms. Data was thematically analysed. The findings confirm that diversity is a challenge due to external factors such as parent expectations, as well as internal factors such as the management of differences between the teachers’ beliefs and those of the learners. Another finding relates to the importance of creating a disciplined classroom environment and finding a positive alliance between policy and implementation. New insights emerged regarding the way cultural responsiveness affirms the unique culture of a classroom and thereby supports its management and discipline.

ORCiD iDs of authors:
Chevonne Prins -
Ina Joubert -
Judite Ferreira-Prevost -
Melanie Moen -

Full Text: PDF