Athlone teacher in running for award

Emeraan Barnes, a science teacher at Garlandale High School, is in the running for the national teachers awards.

Being a science teacher for 20 years meant that Emeraan Barnes got to live out his passion every day, and this year he is in the running for a national teaching award.

A teacher at Garlandale High School, Mr Barnes, has been nominated in the Technology and Learning category of the Department of Basic Educations National Teaching Awards. He said his love for the subject has grown over the years as he teaches it to pupils daily. He said that while it might not be an easy subject to grasp because it took a lot patience and concentration, it was fun after all.

He started his teaching career at the school 20 years ago as a natural science teacher for grades 8 to 10. He had been fairly inexperienced and had relied on the experience and support of his colleagues but had soon grasped the teaching concept and his career as a science teacher had blossomed from there.

He said science had a hands-on subject that needed visuals and objects.

“I started trying new apps to convey the same message but in a different way and to different pupils from different areas. Each student’s prior knowledge of the subject is different, and, as a teacher, you have to adapt to that. Science has always been about problem-solving and application of your knowledge base. It is a skill and pupils who can do that attach easily to the subject while others may struggle, but that is where the educator comes in,” he said.

The competition focuses public attention on the positive aspects of basic education, raising the public image of the teaching profession.

But it is also about recognising and promoting excellence in teaching, honouring teachers and schools, encouraging best practice in schools, and giving South Africans the chance to publicly say thank you to teachers.

Mr Barnes said while he had mixed emotions about the nomination, he was excited about receiving the recognition. “But this is also
my job, this is what I do. It’s
my calling and what I am meant
to do. I love the idea of problem-solving and using science to make a difference in the community. My family, friends, and colleagues are so excited for me. They have been so supportive, especially the principal and management of the school,” he said.

Mr Barnes said although many pupils dropped the subject as soon as they could, he had tried to use technology, such as a smart board, a laptop, a projector and stimulation software to make the concepts easier to understand and to encourage a love for the subject.

His advice to parents is: “Equip yourselves with the knowledge to help your children with their homework. If you can’t visualise it, it’s very difficult to understand. A child tends to learn better when they see things.”