August 2007
(Volume 10, Number 4)
ISSN  1449-2091

Michael Michie

Tiwi designs by Jennifer Coombs
Munupi Arts & Crafts Association,
Pirlangimpi, Melville Island, NT

Indigenous Science Links





The re-emergence of values in science education, edited by Deborah Corrigan, Justin Dillon & Richard Gunstone
Issues relating to values have always had a place in the school science curriculum. Sometimes this has been only in terms of the inclusion of topics such as 'the nature of science' and/or 'scientific method' and/or particular intentions for laboratory work that relate to 'scientific method.' Sometimes it has been much broader, for example in curricula with STS emphases. Of importance to aspects of this proposal is that different countries/cultures have had different traditions in terms of the place of values in the school [science] curriculum. One obvious very broad difference of this form is the central place in [science] education thinking in many European countries of bildung, and the complete absence of this construct from most [science] curriculum thinking in English speaking contexts. There are numbers of such country/cultural differences.
In the 1990s many countries moved towards various conceptualizations of Outcomes Based Education - OBE (sometimes so labelled and sometimes not). It was usual (but not universal) for OBE focused science curricula to have constrained views of the values that should be implicit and explicit in curriculum; that is views concerned only with 'the nature of science' and 'scientific method' (both usually seen as quite unproblematic).
Currently there are a number of education systems that are changing again, and choosing to move away from Outcomes Based Education (for example, South Africa and several Australian states). One of the most interesting features of many of these movements is the re-embracing of a wider view of the science curriculum, including a reconsideration of the nature and place of the values associated with science in the purposes for and approaches to science education. (flier)

Published by Sense Publishers. You can go to their website for a free preview (

UNFINISHED BUSINESS: The Australian Formal Reconciliation Process, by Andrew Gunstone
In 1991, the Hawke Government aimed to reconcile Indigenous and non-Indigenous people by implementing a ten-year reconciliation process. Its three broad goals concerned the education of the wider community; Indigenous socio-economic disadvantage; and a document of reconciliation. The following decade of reconciliation saw some significant achievements. Hundreds of community reconciliation groups were established. Hundreds of thousands of people participated in the Reconciliation Walks in 2000. The wider Australian community developed a greater awareness of Indigenous issues.
But neither the aim nor its three goals were successfully achieved. Further, several political goals of Indigenous people were not adequately addressed, including sovereignty; self-determination, a treaty and land rights.
Unfinished Business is the first book to explore the 1991–2000 reconciliation process. It analyses the process’s successes and failures and the factors that affected it, making a substantial contribution to our understanding of reconciliation in Australia. (flier)

The book is published by Australian Scholarly Publishing in Melbourne and costs $39.95. (MM has an order form, e-mail for a copy)

Recent papers

Chigeza, Philemon. (2007). Indigenous students in school science. Teaching Science, 53(2), 10-15.
Abstract: This paper acknowledges that indigenous students' everyday ways of understanding and school science ways of understanding are often very different. Examples of research conducted in different countries across the world are used to suggest smoother ways for indigenous students to cross the border from everyday ways of knowing, to school science ways of learning. The theory of constructivism and context-based approaches to science learning are used to inform these approaches to smoother border crossings.

Van Eijck, Michiel, &  Roth, Wolff-Michael. (2007). Keeping the Local Local: Recalibrating the Status of Science and Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) in Education. Science Education (online).
ABSTRACT: The debate on the status of traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) in science curricula is currently centered on a juxtaposition of two incompatible frameworks: multiculturalism and universalism. The aim of this paper is to establish a framework that overcomes this opposition between multiculturalism and universalism in science education, so that they become but one-sided expressions of an integrated unit. To be able to do so, we abandon the concept of “truth.” Instead, we adopt a contemporary epistemology that (a) entails both the cultural and material aspects of human, intersubjective reality; (b) concerns the usefulness of knowledge; and (c) highlights the dynamic, heterogeneous, and plural nature of products of human being and understanding. Drawing on narratives of scientists and aboriginal people explaining a comparable natural phenomenon (a salmon run), we show that both TEK and scientific knowledge, though simultaneously available, are incommensurable and irreducible to each other, as are the different processes of knowledge construction/evolution inherent to the constituting artifacts. Drawing on social studies of science, we point out that the transcendent nature of scientific knowledge implies absence of local heterogeneity, dynamic, and plurality making it useless in local contexts other than itself. We discuss the educational implications of this recalibration.

Australasian Science Education Research Association conference 2007 

ASERA 38 was recently held in Fremantle, WA. As usual there were a number of papers which might be of interest to members of the network. I have included a link to the authors and a copy of each abstract.

Alberto Cupane & Peter Charles Taylor (Curtin University): An African enquiry about sustainability in education
Abstract: In this paper, we propose a reconceptualised science education for Mozambique, based on (1) a cultural model of teaching/learning, (2) critical scientific literacy (CSL), and (3) the inclusion of spirituality, as a way to achieve sustainability in the teaching/learning process and in Mozambican society. Our claims are framed by theories of Postcolonialism and Non/dualism and a view of education as a cultural process. Our standpoint is that in the science classroom educators should expand the concept of science in order to help students analyse their identities; hence the need to include local culture. This 'expanded science' is CSL. CSL is the teaching of science in which World Modern Science (WMS) is not the final aim but part of the process of an emancipating culture in schools. This emergent standpoint was built up through an auto/ethnographic research approach which emphasises crystallization as way of `validating' knowledge claims.

Shaheed Hartley (Cape Peninsula University of Technology, South Africa). Assessing the needs of science educators at rural secondary schools in the Western Cape Province, South Africa
Abstract: Over the past number of years there has been increasing pressure to focus on the development of South Africa's rural communities and improving their quality of life. In the light of educational transformation in the country many tertiary institutions are obliged to review their various science and mathematics education outreach interventions in schools. To ensure that the support provided to schools is still relevant, a systemic evaluation of science educator needs is central to this process. This paper describes a pilot investigation to a wider study to assess the needs of 45 secondary schools in the provision of quality science and mathematics education in the Western Cape. The objectives of this investigation are two-fold: (1) to determine the science, mathematics and technology (SMT) needs identified by teachers of the selected secondary; and (2) to develop a SMT needs profile for each of the participating secondary school.

 Bal Chandra Luitel & Peter Charles Taylor (Curtin University of Technology, Western Australia). Research with multiple epistemic metaphors: Searching for alternatives in science education research
Abstract: This presentation discusses an ongoing doctoral research that subscribes to a number of epistemic metaphors including research as writing, inquiry, reconceptualising self, interpreting, deconstructing, making, envisioning, being, and integrating self and other. Deconstructing the conventional notion that research in science and mathematics education should be detached from the context, use only propositional logic, privilege one type of epistemology over many others, and use a dualistic approach to representing reality(s), this presentation aims at demonstrating how alternative logics such as dialectical, non1dual and diachronic can contribute to conceptualising research as professional development in the era of complexity. We also endeavour to present Bal Chandra's different genres-story, poems and ethnodrama-so as to demonstrate the fusion of different epistemic metaphors and logics, and thereby discuss some of the quality criteria to maintain rigour in this type of research.

Hongming Ma (Monash University, Victoria) The image of Science and the concept of Nature
Abstract: This paper reports one aspect of the findings into an examination of Chinese secondary school science teachers' understanding of the nature of science. A qualitative method (a semi-structured interview) was used to explore teachers' views in order to better understand the influence of Chinese culture on understandings of science. The interview protocol consisted of three main topics: views of Nature; the role of culture in the development of science; and, science teaching practice. Teachers' understandings of the nature of science were then developed through analyses of their responses to questions in relation to the above three topics. This paper presents one part of the findings - from their views of Nature, teachers' understanding of the nature of science is analysed from three perspectives: that of science; the strategies and approaches to doing science; and, the status of scientific knowledge.

Alison Sammel (Griffith University Gold Coast, Queensland) Re/search in Canada: Integrating Indigenous Ways of Knowing in Western science education
Abstract: This paper presents a research project aimed at fostering collaboration among a diverse group of Canadian First Nations and non-First Nations educators and Elders. The purpose was to envision, discuss, and clarify a philosophy and framework for First Nations science teaching and learning in Southern Saskatchewan, Canada. The committee did not intend to solely generate science content, but to share Southern Saskatchewan First Nations perspectives, including an interpretation of a Medicine Wheel, so teachers could more deeply engage with existing materials and develop the knowledge base and confidence to generate resources that included First Nations perspectives appropriate to the teaching and learning of science and the needs of all Saskatchewan students. The conversations that emerged from those meetings formed the basis of an 80-page document that is currently used to support the Provincial science curricula. This paper will describe this unique undertaking and discuss implications for Australia.

Kenneth Tobin (The Graduate Center of the City University of New York, New York) Producing solidarity and high science achievement in diverse social contexts.
Abstract: I explore science participation and achievement in diverse social contexts in New York and Philadelphia. I focus on the development of moral solidarity in ethnically diverse classes comprising students from high poverty neighborhoods where first and second generation immigrants predominate. I study cogenerative dialogues as fields in which teachers and students produce (reproduce and transform) culture that affords success in and out of the classroom. Through the lenses of cultural sociology, cultural-historical activity theory, the sociology of emotions, and the philosophy of difference I use mixed methods (autobiography, conversation analysis and authentic ethnography) to analyze participation and achievement in science across macro, meso and micro levels of social life. Students assume responsibility for one another's' learning, coteach with their teachers, and assume an array of new roles in their schools.

Anaru Wood (Massey University, New Zealand) & Brian Lewthwaite: Māori Science Education in Aoteoroa-New Zealand: He pūtea whakarawe: Aspirations and Realities
This paper reports on the first phase of a multiphase science education development project in predominantly Māori Kura (school communities) in the central region of the North Island of Aoteoroa-New Zealand. The development project in its entirety employs an action research methodology and by so doing endeavours to support the improvement of science education delivery in accordance with school community aspirations. The project focuses on (1) establishing the current situation in Year One to Year Eight science education in the communities; (2) identifying developmental aspirations for stakeholders within the communities and potential contributors and constraints to these aspirations; (3) implementing mechanisms for achieving identified aspirations; and finally, (4) evaluating the effectiveness of such mechanisms. This paper focuses on the initial phase of the development project; evaluating through the lenses of Kaupapa Māori Theory and Bronfenbrenner’s bio-ecological model the current situation in Year One to Year Eight science education and identifying the developmental aspirations and perceived constraints and contributors for achieving these science education aspirations within these communities. Finally, we outline some priorities to consider for further education development based on the outcomes of the preliminary discussions.


East-Asia Association for Science Education: 2nd Preparatory Meeting and the Founding Assembly of EASE

Seoul, Korea, 31 October 2007.

2007 International Conference on Science Education for the Next Society

"Foreseeing the Future". Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea. 1-3 November 2007.

The program includes invited lectures, oral, poster presentations and workshops across the topics as follows:
  • Informal Science Education
  • Science Teacher Professional Development
  • Science Education for the special needs including the gifted
  • ICT in Science Education
  • Science Curriculum & Instruction
  • Science Teaching at college level

Discourse and Cultural Practice Conference

University of Technology Sydney, Sydney, NSW. 29 November - 1 December 2007.

The aim of the conference is to explore discourses and cultural practices from a range of perspectives.

We are interested in theoretical and applied research on discourses and cultural practices eg discourse and subjectivity, theories of discourse, practices as ‘the new discourse’; descriptive studies of discourse and cultural practices in specific contexts eg work, play, popular culture, organizations, media; and applications to professional and pedagogical contexts. The third day of the conference (Saturday) will have a particular focus on discourse and cultural practices in relation to language and literacy education.

5th International Conference on Science, Mathematics and Technology Education

"Science, mathematics and technology education beyond cultural boundaries". Udon Thani Rajabhat University, Udon Thani, Thailand. 16-19 January 2008. Jointly organised with the Key Centre for School Science and Mathematics, Curtin University of Technology, Perth, Australia.

This conference will provide another intellectually challenging and culturally enriching experience for science, mathematics and technology teachers, teacher educators, researchers, and administrators at the primary, secondary and higher education levels from around the world.

The conference will include keynote addresses and papers. Participants will be invited to submit their presentations for consideration for inclusion in the conference proceedings. A social and sightseeing program will be organised in conjunction with the conference.

Conference of Asian Science Education

"Science education from an Asian perspective". Kaohsiung, Taiwan. 20-23 February 2008. 

We are happy to take this opportunity to welcome all of you to the Conference of Asian Science Education 2008. Our conference theme is "Science Education from an Asian Perspective" and believes that it will draw professional researchers from diverse science fields within education, both locally and internationally. The major goal of CASE is to promote the latest research and trends in science education as well as be informed concerning innovative teaching strategies all around Asian regions. The conference strands will provide researchers and practitioners a platform by which they can share what they have found that works in science education in Asia, and the significant relevance with international colleagues and communities.

We invite you to join us and share your insights and critically examine issues pertaining to science education. To our foreign participants, we also encourage you to take this opportunity to explore Taiwan and experience the beauty and wonder of our island called Formosa, the Beautiful Island.

(Readers of this Bulletin may find some familiar names when they browse the conference website. MM)

Australian Association for Environmental Education

"Environmental education up the Track: Hot topics for our community", Darwin NT, 1-4 July 2008. Themes for presentations and discussions will include:         

  • Sustainable communities
  • Trans-cultural views
  • Issues such as water, climate change and biodiversity
  • Systems change
  • Alternative energy
  • Action  locally and globally
  • Eco-literacy

Check for updates:

Australasian Science Education Research Association: 39th annual conference

Rydges Hotel, Southbank, Brisbane Qld. 2-5 July 2008. The ASERA link will be activated later in 2007.


This is mostly a summary of upcoming conferences. More details may have been given above or in previous bulletins as shown. A web-based contact is usually included. Inclusion of conferences in this list is not to be read as an endorsement of the conference.


September 2007

3-7 September: World Congress of Comparative Education Societies (WCCES), Living Together, Education and Intercultural Dialogue in Sarajevo. For more information, visit (April07)

October 2007

31 October: East-Asia Association for Science Education: 2nd Preparatory Meeting and the Founding Assembly of EASE. Seoul, Korea, . (Aug07)

November 2007

1-3 November: 2007 International Conference on Science Education for the Next Society. "Foreseeing the Future". Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea. (Aug07)

13-16 November: Second International Conference on Science and Mathematics Education (CoSMEd) 2007, Penang, Malaysia.  ( (April07)

15-19 November:  IIId International Conference of The Social Capital Foundation, in Waikiki, Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii. (Oct06)

29 November - 1 December: Discourse and Cultural Practice Conference, University of Technology Sydney, Sydney, NSW. (Aug07)


January 2008

16-19 January: 5th International Conference on Science, Mathematics and Technology Education. "Science, mathematics and technology education beyond cultural boundaries". Udon Thani Rajabhat University, Udon Thani, Thailand. (Aug07)

February 2008

20-23 February: Conference of Asian Science Education. "Science education from an Asian perspective". Kaohsiung, Taiwan. (Aug07)

March 2008

29 March - 3 April: National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST) annual meeting, Baltimore, (

July 2008

1-4 July: Australian Association for Environmental Education, "Environmental education up the Track: Hot topics for our community", Darwin NT. (Aug07)

2-5 July: Australasian Science Education Research Association, Brisbane Qld (Aug07)

6-11 July: Australian Science Teachers Association, CONASTA57, Brisbane Qld

Date not set

World Indigenous People's Conference on Education (WIPCE 2008), Victoria, Australia


July 2009

ASERA, Deakin University. Dates and venue to be decided.


July 2010

ASERA, University of Newcastle. Dates and venue to be decided.

Last updated: 1 August 2007