Indigenous Science Network

18 October 1998

The names and e-mail addresses of people so far on this list are:

Glen Aikenhead
Cheryl Fyles
Joan Gribble
Jane Anlezark
Theo Read
Didamain Uibo
Mark Linkson
Geoff Bunn
Marilyn Fleer
Michael Michie

Glen sent the following description of his upcoming project.


A Proposal for Developing:
"An R&D Prototype for Producing Cross-Cultural Science & Technology Units (CCSTU) for Northern Saskatchewan Schools"

Proposed September 4, 1998 by a Joint Partnership among Northern Lights and Ile à la Crosse School Divisions; Saskatchewan Education; and G. Aikenhead (College of Education)

Aboriginal student participation in science and engineering is very low in Saskatchewan. Among the myriad of reasons proposed to explain this fact, Aboriginal educators emphatically point to the vast cultural difference between Aboriginal worldviews of students and the worldview expressed in science courses. These differences make science a foreign culture to most Aboriginal students. Without instruction set in the meaningful context of the local community, many students find the science curriculum inaccessible. Culturally sensitive approaches to teaching will treat science instruction as a cross-cultural event. There is a great diversity in cultures from community to community across the north. Thus, culturally sensitive instruction and curriculum will vary from community to community.

1. to establish a collaborative R&D team of northern science teachers and university science educators, along with community resource people, facilitated by "on-line" internet interactions.
2. to develop a prototype process for producing culturally sensitive instructional strategies and curriculum materials that support student learning within any particular community. and
3. to produce some teaching strategies and materials (CCSTU) that exemplify culturally sensitive science teaching for Aboriginal students (grades 7 to 12). These will be made available to communities electronically through CD-ROM and website sources.

Overview of the Project (2 year duration):
A series of working meetings of the R&D team will yield a polished draft of about 7 teaching units (one per teacher). Between these meetings, the team facilitator will be on-line with the teachers through a website at the College of Education. The units will then be piloted in the 7 communities, some of which will be culturally different from the originator's community. This piloting process requires a Community-Based Science Committee (CBSC), which includes elders and other key players, to help the teacher modify the units to suit the local culture and environment. Because the piloting process is a principal outcome to the project — that is, a prototype for revising teaching strategies and materials — special attention is given to this process. Three case studies of the process will be written so that other teachers (not involved in the project) can read and be guided by the pilot teachers in the future. Each of the three case studies will be in culturally diverse communities (e.g. Cree, Dené, and Métis). At the end of the piloting process, the packages of teaching units will be polished further and then made available to any school through CD- ROMs or downloading from a website. The R&D team will locally conduct workshops for other teachers. Throughout this two-year CCSTU project, time is taken to ensure proper protocol and to guarantee a high quality product.

The CCSTU project will produce: (1) strategies for teaching and assessing students (illustrated in the materials produced), (2) exemplary curriculum materials (stored on CD-ROMs and website), (3) a prototype process for adapting any curriculum material to suit the local culture, (4) a teacher guide for teaching CCSTUs, (5) three case studies of the adaptation process set in diverse communities (to guide future teachers using the prototype process), (6) teacher in-service programs, and (7) a technical report.

Budget: = $147,170


Dr. Glen S. Aikenhead
College of Education
University of Saskatchewan
28 Campus Drive
Saskatoon, SK, S7N 0X1

voice phone: 1-306-966-7563
FAX: 1-306-966-7658

Jane Anlezark sent the following description of her work.

I am Jane Anlezark and my interest in Indigenous perspectives in the science curriculum for urban schools was magnified and positioned firmly by a 17 year old Walpiri or Gurindji man who was a boarding student at Kormilda College in Darwin. After a year 11 Biology lesson or general science lesson he came up to me in the bustling start of lunch time rush and said 'Do you know what that Miss bin told me? She said the clouds make the rain!.' With a rolling of the eyes he walked away. He wasn't telling me he had learnt something new. He was expressing his surprise that the 'Miss' would assert something ridiculous because he had another belief.

I have worked as a teacher from preschool through to adult education in urban and bush communities in the Northern Territory since 1981.

Jane and Di Uibo work together on a project implementing indigenous perspectives in schools, and are employed by the NT Department of Education.

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