Culturally Inclusive Inquiry

Critique and evaluate how indigenous knowledge and cultural responsiveness inform practice.

Recently, I was fortunate to attend a Te Toi Tupu Primary Science hui. I had the privilege of hearing Dr Daniel Hikuroa speak about science and indigenous knowledge. He talked about using an inquiry driven approach which offered support systems, provided a relevant context, explored beliefs, methods, criteria for validity and systems for rationality. He suggested an inquiry incorporate Mātaurangi Māori and include Te Reo Māori. This is supported by Cowie, Otrel-Cass, Glynn, & Kara, et al., (2011) who discuss one of the major implications for teaching and learning science is “teachers building bridges and creating opportunities to connect the classroom curriculum with children’s and communities’ lived experiences beyond school” (p.2).

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Class brainstorm – Identifying the ways Maui was a scientist. Image: Emma McFadyen

Hikuroa’s insights inspired me and I decided to engage in a personal teacher inquiry. During the hui Hikuroa posed the question ‘Was Maui a scientist?’ The audience acknowledged Maui to be curious, creative, challenging and mischievous. All the elements of a great scientist. Hikuroa stated that it was important that when students think scientist they think Maui, broadening their understanding of the term ‘scientist’. This became the starting point in my inquiry and Maui became one of our class role models.

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A science inquiry into our local estuary connecting to a class cultural performance on the legend Te Ika A Maui. Image: Emma McFadyen

Through the exploration into developing culturally inclusive units of science inquiry, I started engaging with scientists, science communicators and science educators. We began discussing the issues of diversity in the domain and how the ‘Western’ view of epistemology (Barnhardt & Kawagley, 2005) is impacting on perspective in science, which isn’t an issue isolated to the science sector. Savage, Hindle, Meyer, Hynds, Penetito, & Sleeter (2011) discuss “so-called mainstream schools are not multicultural but actually mono-cultural in asserting dominant cultural values and ignoring, if not actively devaluing, minority cultural values” (p.184).

Around this time I moved to China and started working in an international school

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School group testing the water quality of a pond in Suzhou, China. Image: Emma McFadyen

teaching the International Baccalaureate Curriculum. The IB Curriculum Mission incorporates the concept of international mindedness stating “The International Baccalaureate aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect” (International Baccalaureate Organization, 2007, p.2). Coupled with experiencing my culture as a minority while living in China, I gained valuable insight into how minority cultures in a Western society might feel and how this can potentially impact their self-worth through these experiences.

I believe that indigenous cultures’ knowledge is a key puzzle piece to unlocking how we solve the complex problems facing our world, and requires necessary support for their voices to be heard in a range of disciplines. During an EdTalk (2012) Bishop states “the Māori population are an incredibly educable population and just as easily educable as any other population in society.” Bishop continues to discuss agentic teachers who are the key to making a difference, where students are being partners in the learning process and are able to bring their understanding and knowledge of the world to the conversation to achieve success for themselves.

By creating opportunities in the education sector where students see their knowledge as valuable to broadening the minds of others, creates engagement and deepens their value system in that context. The experience could be what sparks them to start specialising in a certain discipline.

In the bigger picture, this student’s voice is what will create diversity of thought and perspective in a sector, which is what is necessary in attempting to solve the problems facing us today and in the future.

by 2This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

References

Barnhardt, R. & Kawagley, A. (2005). Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Alaska Native Ways of Knowing, Anthropology and Education Quarterly 36 (1):8–23. Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.libproxy.unitec.ac.nz/docview/218130193?OpenUrlRefId=info:xri/sid:primo&accountid=8114

Cowie, B., Otrel-Cass, K., Glynn, T., & Kara, H., et al. (2011). Culturally responsive pedagogy and assessment in primary science classrooms: Whakamana tamariki. Wellington: Teaching Learning Research Initiative. Retrieved from http://www.tlri.org.nz/sites/default/files/projects/9268_cowie-summaryreport.pdf

Edtalks. (2012, September 23). A culturally responsive pedagogy of relations. . Retrieved from https://vimeo.com/49992994

International Baccalaureate Organization. (2007). Primary Years Programme Making the PYP happen: A curriculum framework for international primary education, United Kingdom: Antony Rowe Ltd.

Savage,C, Hindleb, R., Meyerc,L., Hyndsa,A., Penetitob, W. & Sleeterd, C. (2011). Culturally responsive pedagogies in the classroom: indigenous student experiences across the curriculum. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 39(3), 183–198. doi: 10.1080/1359866X.2011.588311 Retrieved from http://web.a.ebscohost.com.libproxy.unitec.ac.nz/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=1&sid=ef7ae91f-0e87-4b7a-8fde-c9bd6d474cc4%40sessionmgr4010

 

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