Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities

The Rainbow Paradox in South Africa: The Gentle Art of Reconstructing Meaning making in Transformation and Teaching in the Humanities

Alida Claudina Van Dyk.

Rapid change, uncertainty and complexity have become a way of life in South Africa. The paper will illustrate processes in which the realities of South Africa will be used as stimuli to look beyond the narrow confines of traditional teaching philosophy. I will more specifically focus on the constructions of alternative meanings using paradox and constructivist theory as practical tools in teaching. We cannot accept or respect our differences until we have made constructive meaning out of them. The global village requires of us to somehow be able to understand and walk on paths different to our own, to facilitate constructive processes, to try and bring differences together, often not as one path - but rather as paths that could harmoniously co-exist in the same context. Nowhere is their confluence more greatly felt than in South Africa, and nowhere is conciliation more needed. Schools of Humanities are no longer there to only enable individuals to realise their potential and to prepare for careers. Instead they need to shift their focus on becoming tools for the elevation of the entire society.
Much of our academic culture in South Africa is build on adversarial and competitive models which often leave little room for the promotion of mediation and mutuality. Accepting differences requires that we find ways to allow multiple truths and multiple realities to coexist.


Alida Claudina Van Dyk  (South Africa)
Department of Social Work
University of South Africa

I was born and bred in South Africa. I completed my Honours Degree in Social Work at the University of Pretoria and completed my Masters degree in Mental Health at the University of South Africa. I joined the academic community of the University of South Africa during 1987 where I am currently still employed as a lecturer in the Department of Social Work. I also have a private practice for the past 10 years. I am a constructivist at heart and I believe in a workable common sense and systemic approach to the challenges of every day life.

  • The rainbow paradox
  • Gentle art of reconstructing new meanings
  • Using constructivism and paradox in teaching.
  • Differences and meaning
  • The meaning of enequality

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)