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ENGAGING WITH INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGES IN SCIENCE CLASSROOMS. Michael Michie Acknowledging the Larrakia as traditional owners of this land . Areas of inclusion of indigenous knowledge. weather and climate ecology and land management bush tucker and bush medicine astronomy Nature of science.

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engaging with indigenous knowledges in science classrooms

ENGAGING WITH INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGES IN SCIENCE CLASSROOMS

Michael Michie

Acknowledging the Larrakia as traditional owners of this land

areas of inclusion of indigenous knowledge
Areas of inclusion of indigenous knowledge
  • weather and climate
  • ecology and land management
  • bush tucker and bush medicine
  • astronomy
  • Nature of science
indigenous weather
Indigenous weather
  • synthesised in a number of localities from around Australia
  • invariably show a more complex local understanding of the seasons rather than the four evenly-timed seasons
  • often presented graphically in circular diagrams which reflect an Indigenous understanding of the cyclical nature of the seasons
  • other knowledge includes wind directions and rain patterns associated with the seasons, and seasonal plant and animal abundances
slide6

The map shows there are many different Aboriginal languages and knowledges

  • The knowledge may be different even in neighbouring language groups
  • In parts of Australia the knowledge may no longer exist
handbook for culturally responsive science teaching stephens 2000
Handbook for Culturally Responsive Science Teaching (Stephens, 2000)

There is mounting evidence that curricular and teaching practices that link schooling to the surrounding cultural and physical environment produce positive results on all indicators of student and school performance. This handbook reflects the most current pedagogical principles that move educational practice from teaching about culture as another discrete subject toteaching through the local culture as a way to bring depth, breadth and significance to all aspects of the curriculum. (Barnhardt, Kawagley & Hill, foreword)

slide8

Culturally responsive science curriculum attempts to integrate Native and Western knowledge systems around science topics with goals of enhancing the cultural well being and the science skills and knowledge of students.

  • It assumes that students come to school with a whole set of beliefs, skills and understandings formed from their experiences in the world, and that the role of school is not to ignore or replace prior understanding, but to recognize and make connections to that understanding.
  • It assumes that there are multiple ways of viewing, structuring, and transmitting knowledge about the world—each with its own insights and limitations.
  • It thus values both the rich knowledge of Indigenous cultures and of Western science and regards them as complementary to one another in mutually beneficial ways.
what are the characteristics of culturally responsive science curricula
What are the characteristics of culturally responsive science curricula?
  • It begins with topics of cultural significance and involves local experts.
  • It links science instruction to locally identified topics and to science standards.
  • It devotes substantial blocks of time and provides ample opportunity for students to develop a deeper understanding of culturally significant knowledge linked to science.
  • It incorporates teaching practices that are both compatible with the cultural context, and focus on student understanding and use of knowledge and skills.
  • It engages in ongoing authentic assessment which subtly guides instruction and taps deeper cultural and scientific understanding, reasoning and skill development tied to standards.
what are some strengths of culturally responsive curriculum
What are some strengths of culturally responsive curriculum?
  • It recognizes and validates what children currently know and builds upon that knowledge toward more disciplined and sophisticated understanding from both indigenous and Western perspectives.
  • It taps the often unrecognized expertise of local people and links their contemporary observations to a vast historical database gained from living on the land.
  • It provides for rich inquiry into different knowledge systems and fosters collaboration, mutual understanding and respect.
  • It creates a strong connection between what student’s experience in school and their lives out of school.
  • It can address content standards from multiple disciplines.
what are some difficulties associated with culturally responsive curriculum
What are some difficulties associated with culturally responsive curriculum?
  • Cultural knowledge may not be readily available to or understood by teachers.
  • Cultural experts may be unfamiliar, uncomfortable or hesitant to work within the school setting.
  • Standard science texts may be of little assistance in generating locally relevant activities.
  • Administrative or community support for design and implementation may be lacking.
  • It takes time and commitment.
border crossing and culture brokering
Border crossing and culture brokering
  • Teachers need to recognise that there are cultural and subcultural borders which some students have difficulty crossing
  • Teachers need to realise that there is value in the other culture, especially in terms of knowledge (eg about the environment, the seasons, astronomy)
  • Teachers may have to undergo their own border crossing to accepted that the other knowledge is valid and useful
  • Teachers may have to adapt their pedagogy to teach the other knowledge in a culturally responsive way
teachers as culture brokers
Teachers as culture brokers

Aikenhead (2006) points out several facets of how a ‘teacher as culture broker’ should operate, particularly when working with indigenous students, including:

  • they acknowledge that a border exists and motivate students to cross it by developing a relationship with them, by understanding the specific history of the students’ culture and by holding high expectations for them
  • they employ the language of both the students’ culture and the culture of western science
  • they explicitly keep track of which culture comprises the context of the moment and they help students resolve cultural conflicts that may arise
  • they reframe the acquisition of relevant western science as an appropriation of western culture for utilitarian purposes rather than as the correct way of knowing about the world
  • they make the ontology of the western coloniser explicit in their classrooms thereby providing students more freedom to appropriate parts of western science without embracing western ways of valuing nature, an appropriation Aikenhead calls ‘autonomous acculturation’.
teachers as cultural negotiators
Teachers as cultural negotiators

Stairs (1994) indicates that she has moved on from this earlier culture broker idea to one of teachers as cultural negotiators.

“Understanding cultureis dramatically different to knowing culture … move students beyond the initial multicultural what of culture … to construct a cultural negotiation model, the how of contextualization and the why of intention and meaning…” (Stairs, 1994, p. 232, her emphasis)

indigenous science network http members ozemail com au mmichie network html
Indigenous Science Networkhttp://members.ozemail.com.au/~mmichie/network.html