Technology straight from the horse's mouth

02 August 2006

As a teacher, it's no mean task translating words from a dull technology textbook into something practical for young learners. Even more so when teachers themselves have little hands-on experience of things technological.

Which is why Associate Professor Kevin Rochford took students on the Postgraduate Certificate in Education 'out in the field' recently. Specifically, he took them to the Epping home of the Cart Horse Protection Association (CHPA), whose day-to-day mission and work is to protect working cart horses from abuse.

In one initiative, Project African Dawn (PAD), the association trains apprentices from disadvantaged backgrounds in equine technical skills, covering everything from harnessry and saddlery to shoeing and proper nutrition. (PAD is also the subject of a thesis by UCT master's student Liz Hodes, who first put Rochford onto the work of the association.)

For Rochford, the "magic" in the visit lay in the reversal of roles as the PAD apprentices passed on some of their knowledge and skills to the university students. The students were at the time working on a module on natural science and technology, specifically as found in immediate communities.

"We have here people with just a few years primary-school education who have learned all these technical skills, and who are now teaching university graduates," said Rochford. "It just goes to show that no matter what your status in society in South Africa, everybody can learn something from each other."

That just makes good horse sense.

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