This article focuses on the experiences of beginner teachers of the transdisciplinary demands
evident in school curricula. A detailed inductive thematic analysis of open-ended interviews
with ten beginner teachers from socially diverse South African schools provided rich data on
their experiences of these demands. Rapid changes in the South African school curriculum
since 1994 are discussed against the backdrop of participants’ real lived experience during
their first three years of teaching and are posed as main reason for transdisciplinary demands
on beginner teachers. Despite the socio-economic differences between schools, all participants
experienced the same cognitive and emotional dissonance during their first years of teaching.
All participants’ related experiences of heightened levels of confusion, fear of failure to meet
demands of school management teams, frustration of not being able to effectively teach
subjects for which they had been trained and concern about the influence of their lack of
knowledge in unfamiliar subjects on learners. Drawing on the concept of an ‘ideal’
transdisciplinary approach, this article explores the ways in which transdisciplinary
demands within the transitional space of the state of the South African educational system
compound challenges faced by beginner teachers. Recommendations for tertiary teacher
training programmes are briefly suggested in the conclusion.