Indigenous Science Network Bulletin

June 2002 (Volume 5, Number 3)

Editor: Michael Michie







Toyne welcomes Ruddock indigenous comments

Kakadu Man an example to all. 

Statement by Commissioner for NT Northern Zone, Mr Kim Hill

ATSIC's elected representatives and staff of the Northern Territory are deeply saddened by the passing of a great leader known internationally as the Kakadu man. On their behalf I wish to express our sincere condolences to his large extended family, the Bininj of Kakadu, and his many friends.

His life was an example to all Australians. Although born at a time when there was minimal and often violent contact with white man, he was to eventually lead the way in opening up his country to visitors from around Australia and the world. He lived his life on the principles of reconciliation long before it became a national issue.

He was a great and knowledgeable leader who worked tirelessly for the rights of his people and others. But he was also extremely generous in sharing his wisdom, culture and country with Balanda.

His life inspired several books, which in turn have set benchmarks in the study of environmental and Indigenous cultural issues. He was a supporter of the Jawoyn and a crucial witness during the 1990 inquiry into the proposed mining at Guratba (Coronation Hill).

He possessed a rare quality which engendered the utmost trust and respect from people from all walks of life, be they senior government or mining officials, or just your average person or visitor. Having met him as a young fella, I will always remember how powerful his voice was and the absolute authority, as well as gentleness, it carried. All Australians have an obligation, in respect of the memory of this great man, to continue his ideals and his work. I for one am committed to doing so.

Ah Kit hopes schools will adopt 'Kakadu Man' teachings (

Northern Territory Labor politician John Ah Kit hopes the book Kakadu Man, will become part of the school curriculum throughout Australia.

The book was named after Bill Neidjie, who died last week after a long illness.

Mr Neidjie played an instrumental role in developing Kakadu National Park and taught many people about the importance of conserving the park's fauna and flora.

Mr Ah Kit says Mr Neidjie's teachings can continue through the text.

"People will now start looking to buy the Kakadu Man book a lot more," he said.

"I think it should be compulsory for kids in our education system throughout the country let alone in the Northern Territory."

Conference Report: Sharing Resources, Darwin 10-11 May 2002 (submitted by Birut Zemits)

This year, the Social Educators Association of the Northern Territory (SEANT) and the Australian Association of Environmental Educators (NT) combined with the Asia in Schools project to hold a conference. The conference set out to examine the concept of 'Sharing Resources' for teaching in the Northern Territory. Themes developed were about how we share resources in

  •  Cultural exchange, particularly with an Asian perspective
  • Sustainable natural resource use, with an NT focus
  • Communicating by audio-visual means 

Funded through an application to the Joint Council, the conference attracted out of Darwin participants as far afield as Nhulunbuy, Alice Springs, Pularumpi and Alyangula. Within Darwin, over ten government and non-government schools were represented. The conference also attracted participants representing non-school organisations such as the Northern Territory Museum (Asian Collection), the Environment Centre, Creative Tours Asia, Parks and Wildlife, Waterwatch and the NT Minerals Council Inc.

Ash Dargan's opening gave a lively and highly popular start to proceedings on Friday afternoon. The sounds of the didgeridoo filtered through the lecture theatre at the Northern Territory University and Ash shared his knowledge about music and culture with an inquisitive audience. This was followed by the official opening by Dr Chris Burns (MP). Then, the three themes of the conference were developed by Lily Chan (Asian Perspective), Robbie Henderson (Environmental Perspective) and Birut Zemits (Audio-Visual Communication Perspective). The opening proceedings were topped off by a colourful welcome dance from the Filipino dance group.

Altogether, there were three sessions of presentations and workshops. Within each session there were three options from which to choose. Below is a brief summary of these sessions.

Seasonal Offerings

  • Squid, Seals and the Sea-Environment for Studies of Asia Lily Chan (Asia in Schools Project) and Debbie Thomas (Alyangula Primary School) examined ways in which Environment and Studies of Asia can be linked in teaching using frameworks in a program. Debbie's example of work used in a community school was highly appreciated.
  • Community & environmental education - Learning from the Bush Ron Mitchell (Palmerston High & AAEE treasurer) shared his experiences of actively involving the community and school groups in learning about bush foods and bush medicines.
  • Preparing resources to motivate citizens - Lorain Caldwell (Darwin High School and Ausaid) examined how resources for teaching about culture and environment can encourage active citizens. 
  • Wake Up To Islam-Understanding and Respecting the Muslim Faith Lucretia Prang (Creative Cultural Tours) presented slides about her experiences with the Lombok Muslim community. Extended discussions about religious and cultural understanding ensued.
  • From vision to reality- Graham Sawyer (Entity1)  & Michael Michie (Principal Pularumpi School) demonstrated and gave practical suggestions about creating locally relevant resources using multi-media.
  • Fun Frameworks Sue Trimble (Gray Primary) shared projects and programming methods for Primary and Middle School Studies of Society and Environment (SOSE).
  • Rangoli art of India - At the Hindu temple, Jaya Srinivas (Essington School Darwin) showed how to integrate art and maths into cultural education. 
  • Show a Little Respect- Birut Zemits (NTU) presented a video work examining the use and management of Casuarina Coastal Reserve. The ensuing discussion developed ideas about producing relevant audio-visual resources for NT audiences.
  • Webquest resources for SOSE- Barbara Dobson (Resource Coord. NT DEET, Strategic & Leadership Development Branch) shared knowledge about how to integrate web resources into the SOSE curriculum.

This variety was valued by the participants, whose interests were diverse but, who met together in purposeful discussions. One participant wrote in his/her evaluation that 'it reminded me of how important it is to maintain networks and 'talk teaching''.

In addition to the sessional offerings, there was a dinner function where Dr Bob Smith had us singing nursery rhymes, creating frog sound scapes and discussing the links of music and culture at the Yum Cha restaurant over a delicious banquet. 

The first of the two plenary sessions raised many questions about our society and our teaching about Asia. James Bennet (NT Museum curator) and Yuliana Kusumastuti (journalist and MA student at NTU) raised questions from a non-Eurocentric view of our historical and current ties with Indonesia under the title ' Fishermen, Trafficking and Boat People-Removing the Pink Glasses'. 

Our current minister for Environment and Ethnic Affairs, Kon Vatskalis, linked the themes aptly with his discussion of how people within the Greek society had changed perceptions of their environment after the Chernobyl disaster in the 1980s. As he launched AAEE CD rom, he described it as an excellent and interesting resource for teaching about the environment. He said that he felt proud that such high quality items were being developed by educators in the NT.

The second plenary opened the forum question of "What choice do we have in our use of produced teaching resources?" Georgie Barker (NT Minerals Council Inc), Kirsten Blair (Environment Centre NT) and Robbie Henderson (Waterwatch Coordinator for Arid lands Environment Centre & First Instar Environmental Communication Consultancy) presented views about decisions linked to choosing teaching resources. Suzanne Parry (NTU) chaired lively discussion from the floor. The questions behind corporate sponsorship of materials and access to relevant resources were not answered but left the group with plenty to think about.

Overall, the conference achieved its aim of bringing educators of Studies of Society and Environment in the NT together to share expertise and ideas about teaching concepts to their students or clients. 


World Indigenous Peoples Conference on Education - 4-10 August 2002

Marita Hyman, a member of the network in the USA, was wondering whether any other members were going to be at this conference, as she would like to meet up with them. Marita was in Australia last year and attended CONASTA in Sydney, as well as meeting up with some ASERA people. She visited me in Darwin and later visited a couple of Aboriginal communities here in the Northern Territory, at Yirrkala and Numbulwar. She is also just about to start on her PhD studies in indigenous science education at Cornell University.

If you haven't looked already, you may be interested in the list of people presenting at the conference and the titles of their presentations. You'll find it at Apparently they are still accepting registrations and abstracts.

ASERA Conference, Townsville, 11-14 July 2002

I expect that some members of the network will be attending this conference and I hope to see them there. I will not be at CONASTA which is being held in Hobart beforehand. Michael.


Recent publications

Chinn, P.W.U. (2002). Asian and Pacific Islander women scientists and engineers: A narrative exploration of model minority, gender, and racial stereotypes. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 39(4), 302-323.

Sutherland, D., & Dennick, R. (2002). Exploring culture, language and the perception of the nature of science. International Journal of Science Education, 2(1), 1- 25. One dimension of early Canadian education is the attempt of the government to use the education system as an assimilative tool to integrate the First Nations and Me´tis people into Euro-Canadian society. Despite these attempts, many First Nations and Me´tis people retained their culture and their indigenous language. Few science educators have examined First Nations and Western scientific worldviews and the impact they may have on science learning. This study explored the views some First Nations (Cree) and Euro-Canadian Grade-7-level students in Manitoba had about the nature of science. Both qualitative (open-ended questions and interviews) and quantitative (a Likert-scale questionnaire) instruments were used to explore student views. A central hypothesis to this research programme is the possibility that the different world-views of two student populations, Cree and Euro-Canadian, are likely to influence their perceptions of science. This preliminary study explored a range of methodologies to probe the perceptions of the nature of science in these two student populations. It was found that the two cultural groups differed significantly between some of the tenets in a Nature of Scientific Knowledge Scale (NSKS). Cree students significantly differed from Euro-Canadian students on the developmental, testable and unified tenets of the nature of scientific knowledge scale. No significant differences were found in NSKS scores between language groups (Cree students who speak English in the home and those who speak English and Cree or Cree only). The differences found between language groups were primarily in the open-ended questions where preformulated responses were absent. Interviews about critical incidents provided more detailed accounts of the Cree students’ perception of the nature of science. The implications of the findings of this study are discussed in relation to the challenges related to research methodology, further areas for investigation, science teaching in First Nations communities and science curriculum development. (Abstract)

Sharing our pathways is the newsletter of the Alaskan Native Knowledge Network. The summer 2002 issue has been produced and can be accessed at The main story is entitled "Oral traditional knowledge: Does it belong in the classroom?"

Gapuwiyak Dhawu: A history of the North East Arnhem Land community of Gapuwiyak

This resource has been produced by the Batchelor Institute and released as a book and a CD-ROM with oral histories, mostly in language (Yolgnu Matha). Gapuwiyak is located east of Darwin in North East Arnhem Land and used to be called Lake Evella.

"In writing and researching this book the Assistant Teachers are making a very strong statement that education at Gapuwiyak is much more than 'school education'. At Gapuwiyak, for children to have a 'good' education, they not only need all the things that can be found in curriculum documents about English, mathematics, science and the other learning areas, but they also need to know about the history and culture of their community.....

This is a timely book. We live in an era when the rewriting of history according to the agenda of the government of the day, or any other organisation for that matter, seems to have become a national obsession. The writing of Indigenous histories by Indigenous peoples has become more important than ever if the journeys of learning of Indigenous people are not to lead to a series of blind alleys and dead end streets. The Assistant Teachers at Gapuwiyak are well aware of the need to guard against the potential for education to be a highway to assimilation." (Flier)

The book is $25, the CD-ROM $10, or both $30 (all prices in Australian dollars). Postage and handling is extra, and there is GST on top as well. For more information (ask for a flier) phone 08 8939 7194, fax 08 8939 7354, or email to

Plants, Animals and People: ethnoecology of the Jawoyn people.

The Jawoyn people living at Barunga in the Northern Territory were keen to record some of the stories about the things around them so that their young people would know about them and so ‘white people can learn’.

Students, at any level will benefit from being able to read these stories. Not all Aboriginal students have knowledge of the stories of their people and few non-Aboriginal people have the opportunity to share them. These stories are for those people who are interested to read about the environment from a Jawoyn perspective.

The price is $25. Copies are available from Batchelor Press. Ph: (08) 8939 7194, Fax: (08) 8939 7354, email.

Papunya School book of country and culture

Papunya is an Aboriginal community in Central Australia, about 200 km west of Alice Springs. 

"This book tells the story of how Anangu from five different language groups came to live together at Papunya. From the time of the first contacts with explorers, missionaries and pastoralists, through to the Papunya art movement and the Warumpi Band, this multi-layered text finally leads us to the unique environment that is Papunya School. As an example of two way learning, it is a profound metaphor for reconciliation." (Cover)

Publication details: Papunya School. (2001). Papunya School book of country and culture. Sydney: Allen & Unwin. Available in hardcover (ISBN 1 86508 526 X, $29.95) and paperback (ISBN 1 86508 525 1).

Bush Mechanics - the series (video)

"This off-beat series follows the exploits of a group of young Aboriginal men as they travel across the central desert in their clapped-out cars. In e each episode, the Bush Mechanics are faced with a new set of challenges and a host of mechanical problems, which they solve with imaginative bush repair techniques.

Combining adventure, magic realism and a distinctive brand of indigenous humour, Bush Mechanics - the series provides an insight into both contemporary and traditional Aboriginal culture." (Cover)

There are four half-hour programs on the tape. The tape was produced by the ABC and is available at ABC Shops ($29.95) or on the net through The video is only available in PAL, not NTSC.


World Indigenous Peoples Conference on Education - August 4 - 10, 2002

WIPCE 2002 will be hosted by the First Nations Adult and Higher Education Consortium (FNAHEC) at a beautiful site on Stoney Nation lands in the mountains just west of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. First Nations Adult and Higher Education Consortium, Suite 310, 6940 Fisher Rd. SE, Calgary, AB T2H 0W3. Phone: (403) 258-1775, Fax: (403)258-1811. For more information, visit their website at

Second International Forum on Education Reform: Key Factors in Effective Implementation will be held in Bangkok, Thailand from 2 to 5 September 2002. 

This Forum is organized by the Office of the National Education Commission of Thailand (ONEC), with the collaboration of many international organizations and embassies in Thailand. The Hong Kong Institute of Education is one of the co-hosts of the Forum.

 The Forum aims at reviewing major trends and processes of reform implementation initiated at national and local levels; identifying key factors in effective reform implementation that results in learner-centered approach, school-designed curriculum, school-based management and public participation, and performance-based evaluation; demonstrating changes resulting from reform implementation at central, community, school and classroom levels; as well as creating an international network of institutions, policy makers, and researchers engaged in education reform. 

The main theme of this conference is “Education Reform: Key Factors in Effective Implementation”. The followings are the sub-themes of the Forum:
- Learning Reform;
-    School Reform including Institutional Reform, System Reform, and Decentralization; and
-    Education standards and quality assurance.

 Please note that the deadline for submitting paper abstracts is 30 June 2002. For further information and registration, please visit the website at <>.

Curtin University of Technology, Sarawak Campus, Malaysia will host the International Conference on "Higher Education for the 21st Century", to be held from 24 to 26 September 2002, in Miri, Sarawak, Malaysia.

The main themes of the conference are:

  •  Teaching and Learning in a knowledge-society
  • Approaches to Teaching and Learning
  •   The role of ICT in Tertiary education of the 21st century
  •  Towards excellence in education
  • Governance of universities in the 21st century

For more information, please visit the conference website:, He21 Organising Committee, Curtin University of Technology, Sarawak Campus, Malaysia, CDT 250, 98009 Miri, Sarawak Malaysia. Tel:  +60 85 443939

The International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement (ICSEI 2003) will be held in Sydney, Australia from 5 to 8 January 2003. This Conference is organized by the ICSEI 2003 Committee, with the collaboration of many national organizations in Australia. The Hong Kong Institute of Education is one of the co-sponsors of the Conference.

The Conference aims at providing a pertinent opportunity for all colleagues to exchange and share information on advanced research, practice and policy in the area of school effectiveness and improvement.

The main theme of this Conference is “Schooling the Knowledge Society”, which will be explored at four levels: student learning, learning environment, support system, and policy and regulation, through the following four key strands:
- Nature of Learning;
-    Challenging Circumstances;
-    Capacity Building; and
-    Transformation & Innovation.

Please note that the deadline for submitting paper abstracts is 1 July 2002. For further information and registration, please visit the ICSEI2003 website at <>.

Australian Association for Research in Education

Problematic Futures: Educational research in an era of ... uncertainty. International Education Research Conference, Queensland University, Brisbane, Qld., 1-5 December 2002,


This is mostly a summary of upcoming conferences. More details may have been given in previous bulletins or circulated by e-mail. A web-based contact is usually included.

July 2002

2-4 July 2002: Australian Indigenous Education Conference, "Sharing Success : An Indigenous Perspective". Townsville, Queensland. The School of Indigenous Australian Studies, James Cook University, invites you to register NOW. More information available at the website,

2-6 July 2002: Australian Association for Environmental Education 12th Biennial Conference, Sustaining Environmental Education: Celebrating Diversity, Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia. A call for papers (in .pdf format) can be downloaded from:

6-11 July 2002: CONASTA 51 Australian Science Teacher's Association (ASTA) National Conference, Hobart Tas: Problem Solving and the Ethical Dilemma. For information visit

11-14 July 2002: Australasian Science Education Research Association (ASERA), 33rd Annual Conference, Townsville, Queensland. Convenor: Dr Steve Ritchie, for information

14-18 July 2002: CULTURAL ASPECTS OF INFORMATION SYSTEMS, A section within the 6th World Multi-Conference on Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics - SCI2002, Orlando, Florida (USA)

27 July - 2 August 2002: "Rethinking science and technology education to meet the demands for future generations in a changing world", IOSTE 10th Biennial Symposium,  Foz do Iguaca, Brazil (

August 2002

4-10 August 2002: World Indigenous Peoples Conference on Education - Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

 6-11 August: 'The Boston TEE Party'. DRAFT details of North American Association for Environmental Education's 2002 conference, Boston Email:,

13-17 August 2002: Garma Festival Forum, Nhulunbuy NT, inquiries can be made to Wayne Willis at or by telephone on 08 8941 0202. 

September 2002

2-5 September 2002: Second International Forum on Education Reform: Key Factors in Effective Implementation will be held in Bangkok, Thailand.

24-26 September 2002: Curtin University of Technology, Sarawak Campus, Malaysia will host the International Conference on "Higher Education for the 21st Century", in Miri, Sarawak, Malaysia.

November 2002

18-21 November 2002: Globalization and Localization Enmeshed: Searching for a Balance in Education, Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand. For the detail of the Conference, please visit the Conference website at or contact the organizer of E-mail: <>

December 2002

1-5 December 2002:  Australian Association for Research in Education, 2002 Education Research Conference, Brisbane, Queensland  (

January 2003

5-8 January 2003: International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement (ICSEI 2003) Sydney, Australia.

July 2003

30 July - 3 August 2003: 7th  International History, Philosophy and Science Teaching Group Conference, Winnipeg, Manitoba.  The conference chair is Professor Art Stinner (, and the conference secretary and programme chair is Dr Stephen Klassen ( Further details are available from the secretary and from the IHPST web site (

A listing of conferences is also maintained by the University of South Australia's Indigenous Online Network, at From there you can also access proceedings from the first Forum on Indigenous Research (the Umulliko forum).

Last updated: 1 June 2002

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