Nicola Frick is a self-confessed indoctrinator for good. Having worked as a teacher for 10 years, she considers her primary role to be influencing the thinking of her pupils, because she sees the classroom as a perfect space to create change. In challenging the beliefs her pupils have been brought up with, prejudices passed down from parents who belong to a different era in South Africa’s past, she hopes to mould socially responsible, democratic citizens essential to its future.
As a history teacher, Frick understands the power of using lessons from the past to help pupils understand the present and show how their choices in behaviour — present and future — can impact on society. When she came across Shikaya, a non-governmental organisation that uses history as a tool to influence how teachers think and teach, there was instant chemistry. In 2011, she left the classroom to work fulltime at Shikaya to extend her influence as a teacher’s teacher.
In facilitating workshops, Frick creates a space for teachers from different schools and backgrounds to connect with “the other”, to explore their experiences of apartheid and understand its influence on their teaching and on pupils. Whether they teach history, maths, science, English or life orientation, Frick provides them with the tools required to teach without prejudice, to influence pupils positively and to instil values in democracy. She also works directly with youth through Shikaya’s UP2US programme, helping them to understand how their choice to be “UPstanders” can impact on society. Through a new project, Classrooms4Change, she hopes to dovetail both programmes in an effort to make the classroom a place where real change happens.
In using her favourite subject, her influence and her passion for her country, Frick is ensuring that the democracy we fought for in the past only strengthens and thrives into the future.
— Lu Larche