Indigenous Science Network Bulletin

October 2001 (Volume 4, Number 5)

Editor: Michael Michie


Garma Festival

One event that slipped through the last bulletin was the Garma Festival, organised by the Yothu Yindi Foundation and held in Northeastern Arnhemland, east of Darwin. The traditional people of the area are the Yolngu. It was held early in September and attended by a number of people, both white and black.

There is a report of the festival already available on the website, at It was compiled by Michael Christie from the Northern Territory University on a day-by-day basis. Check each of the days' activities.

At each of the festivals (this was the third) there have been attempts to look at cross-cultural aspects; this year it was traditional law and next year it is to be Aboriginal arts.


"Mutant Message Down Under" by Marlo Morgan

Leslie Jones wrote to me regarding this book and I checked on it locally. Basically it is a work of fiction, although the publishers are still not making this apparent to readers: investigation by Aboriginal groups have shown that the author was not afforded the intimate knowledge of the Indigenous practices she portrays in this book and its sequel. For further information, you can visit these websites.


Warning issued against posting new teachers to Aboriginal communities

The parliamentary secretary for Aboriginal Affairs, Chris Gallus, says newly graduated teachers should not be posted to work on remote Aboriginal communities.

Ms Gallus has been touring communities in the Anangu-Pitjantjatjarra Lands in central Australia and says the residents are worried about their children having no future and missing out on education because of language problems.

She says she will speak to education ministers around the country about reviewing employment practices to ensure experienced teachers are placed in communities.

"You're often dealing with children whose English is a second language, who are away from school because their family have gone to see relatives," she said.

"You're dealing with a totally different situation and to send young graduates out and expect them to cope is silly and we really do need people out there with alot of expertise and experience," Ms Gallus said.

(Reprinted from ABC's Message Stick, This and other ABC links may no longer be active.)


Aboriginal students struggling through senior: study

A new study has shown that young Aboriginal people in Western Australia are facing profound problems in staying at school through years 11 and 12.

Edith Cowan University's Doctor Quentin Beresford says interviews with Aboriginal students have revealed that teenage girls commonly drop out of school because they become pregnant.

With Aboriginal boys, behavioural problems usually emerge, but both boys and girls routinely reported that their parents did not finish school.

"The kids were telling us that, mostly, none of their wider family had ever finished school," he said.

"Now, I think we can all understand that if you are trying to parent from that degree of profound disadvantage... it's difficult sometimes to have the skills to transmit to your kids to survive in the education system."

(This item appeared in the ABC's Radar page recently. I haave a copy of the report or you caan contact Quentin Beresford or Jan Gray at Edith Cowan University.)


Normaton State School maintains high attendance rate

(This item appeared in the ABC's Radar page

Normanton State School in Queensland's Gulf Country said fostering a good relationship with the local community is the key to lowering high student absenteeism.

Principal Ron Henry said despite having an 85 per cent indigenous student population, the school has a very high attendance rate.

He said the secret is building trust with parents and families of the students.

"The attendance rate here is pretty good, we sustain an attendance rate of around 85 per cent. On average our chronic absenteeism is not at a high level, we have a couple of children that we have to chase, but a lot of it lies in what we offer at school.

"We do the best and I think our teachers are very professional in offering programs that provide opportunities for engagement with the kids. In essence, if we've got the parents behind us and we have a good curriculum, then our truancy rate or absenteeism should not be an issue," Mr Henry said.


Aboriginal land council partnership shares elder's knowledge

The Cooperative Research Centre for Tropical Savannas Management in Darwin includes an alliance of Aboriginal land councils as a core partner for the first time.

The $18 million second stage of the project will allow the councils to be key players in decision making.

David Epworth, from the Cape York Land Council, says the inclusion is recognition of the knowledge that Aboriginal peoples have of sustainable development.

He says the partnership is also a chance to preserve valuable knowledge before it is lost.

"We're right on the cusp of losing a large proportion of the people of knowledge, there's a real urgency to protect old people's knowledge and to move that into the next generations of people and land managers," Mr Epworth said.

"One of the rewarding things about the cooperative research centre is that they've recognised the urgency."


Journal of Research in Science Teaching

The April 2001 edition of the Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 38(5), contained a series of articles about culture and language in science education. 

Preface Culture and language in science education: What do we know and what do we need to know?
Okhee Lee, pp 499-501 

Case-based pedagogy as a context for collaborative inquiry in the Philippines
Elvira L. Arellano, Tessie L. Barcenal, Purita P. Bilbao, Merilin A. Castellano, Sharon Nichols, Deborah J. Tippins, 502-528 

Rethinking diversity in learning science: The logic of everyday sense-making
Beth Warren, Cynthia Ballenger, Mark Ogonowski, Ann S. Rosebery, Josiane Hudicourt-Barnes, 529-552 

On the cultural validity of science assessments
Guillermo Solano-Flores, Sharon Nelson-Barber, 553-573

Same school, separate worlds: A sociocultural study of identity, resistance, and negotiation in a rural, lower track science classroom
Andrew Gilbert, Randy Yerrick, 574-598

Interpretive investigation of the science-related career decisions of three African-American college students
Bradford F. Lewis, Angelo Collins, 599-621

Conclusion Science for all is not equal to one size fits all: Linguistic and cultural diversity and science education reform
Sharon Lynch, 622-627

These papers have appeared in other recent issues of JRST:

Sullenger, K, & others. (2000). Culture wars in the classroom: Prospective teachers question science. JRST, 37(9), 895-915.

Lemke, J.L. (2001). Articulating communities: Sociocultural perspectives on science education. JRST, 38(3), 296-316.

(I have not read any of these items which I selected from the table of contents for JRST on the Internet. Ed.)

Kormilda Science Project

Theo Read and Daryl Rose have had an article on "The Kormilda Science Project - the Earth Sciences with an Australian Indigenous Perspective" published in the Australian Science Teachers' Journal, 47(2), 44-45, June 2001.

"The Kormilda Science Project provides a semester length unit of Earth Science for year 9 and 10. The aims are to concurrently impart main stream scientific skills and knowledge while providing an improved understanding of Aboriginal culture. The Project's central strategy is the delivery of a science content, integrated within an Aboriginal cultural and community context. The aspects of Aboriginality involve material of a contemporary nature and relate to elements of oral history that provide a traditional creation account of natural landscape features."

If you would like a copy, you can contact Theo or the editor.


Science education and culture: The contribution of history and philosopy of science

Fabio Bevilacqua, Enrico Giannetto & Michael R. Matthews (eds.), Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, 2001. (360pp, USD27 / AUD55)

This anthology contains 21 papers authored by prominent historians and philosophers of science, philosophers of education, science educators and science teachers. It is expansive in its subject matter, and detailed in its analysis. The papers are drawn from the joint conference of the International History, Philosophy and Science Teaching Group and the History of Physics Division of the European Physical Society held at Pavia University and Lake Como in September 1999. The conference was part of Pavia University’s Volta Bicentennary celebrations. The common thread in all papers is the contribution that the history and philosophy of science makes to theoretical, curricular and pedagogical issues in science education.

For more information contact Michael Matthews or the editor.


Cross-cultural programming in museums

"Norwegian museums and the multicultural challenge - principles and practices in exhibition and education" by Per B. Rekdal. This report is a result of the NMU project investigating the promotion of multicultural awareness in museums (1998-99). The basis of the investigation was information gathered from museums in Norway and other northern European countries.


Sharing our pathways

The latest issue of Sharing our pathways, the newsletter of the Alaskan Naative Knowledge Network, can be downloaded from


New books

Humphery, Weeramanthri & Fitz (2001). Forgetting compliance: Aboriginal health and medical culture. Darwin: Northern Territory University Press. (AU$29.95)

"Instead of focusing on the health beliefs of Aboriginal people as a potentential reason for this non-uptake of health advice and treatments, this study explores the experiences, ideas and practices of a group of health professionals working within hospitals, health department units, Aboriginal medical services and remote area health services in the Northern Territory.... We conclude that 'compliance'.... must be forgotten. Instead, provision and uptake issues must be thought about simultaneously....."(Cover)

Folds, R. (2001). Crossed Purposes: The Pintupi and Australia' indigenous policy. Sydney: University of NSW Press. (AU$37.95)

"Folds offers new insights... through an examination between the Australian state and the Pinupi people of Australia's western deserts. Folds' critique fundamentally challenges many popular assumptions about the way indigenous groups like the Pintupi interact with western society." (Cover)


Contemporary Approaches to Research in Mathematics, Science, Health and Environmental Education, 26 - 27 November 2001

Centre for Studies in Mathematics, Science and Environmental Education, Deakin University, Melbourne Campus, 221 Burwood Highway, Burwood 3125 Vic.

The ninth annual Contemporary Approaches to Research in Mathematics, Science, Health and Environmental Education symposium will be held on on 26 - 27 November 2001 at the Melbourne Campus of Deakin University.

The closing date for expressions of interest for presentations is Friday 21 September 2001. Please phone Anusha Weerasinghe on (03) 9244 6369 or email if you would like more details or a copy of the symposium brochure.

The symposium will focus on both practical and theoretical aspects of a range of research methodologies. It follows the highly successful symposia held over the past eight years, in which issues such as data handling, interview techniques and action research models were discussed in a lively, informal setting.

It is expected that academic researchers and post graduate research students will gain from the symposium. The emphasis will be on the methodologies employed for conducting research.

Presentations at the symposium will be organised into four sessions designed to promote focussed discussion of methodological issues related to mathematics, science, health and environmental education. In previous years, sessions have focussed on research related to areas such as observing learning environments, assessing conceptual growth, case study approaches, methodological aspects such as qualitative data analysis with and without computers, and ethical issues. Each session will consist of a number of brief presentations, followed by an opportunity for extended discussion.

There will again be two keynote addresses this year exploring different methodological issues - the first will be given by Professor Marita McCabe and the second by Associate Professor John Loughran.

People wishing to make a brief research presentation of 10 to 15 minutes duration should complete the Expression of Interest: Presentations form and return it, together with a 100 word abstract, by Friday 21 September. Email expressions of interest are welcome, provided all the information is supplied as requested. Presentations should briefly outline the research question being addressed, the methodology being used, and the findings or ikely outcomes of the research.  Presentations should focus mainly on the  research methodology. Reports on work in progress are welcome.


15th International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement, Copenhagen, Denmark, 3 - 6 January 2002.

The Conference is organized by Denmark's newest higher education institution - The Danish University of Education and is supported by the Danish Ministry of Education and The Swedish National Agency for Education.

The theme of the Conference is Democratic Learning and fits well with the strong commitment to participation, enlightenment and social justice that lie at the heart of schooling. The ICSEI 2002 conference aims to reflect the contextual character of educational change through inviting contributions to the debates on school improvement and school effectiveness from a variety of cultural, socio-economic and political perspectives. You are welcome to submit papers for presentation. The deadline for submission of proposals is 15 September 2001. Criteria for acceptance of proposals will be posted on the Web at, or you may request information via e-mail at


"A Place for You: Linking People, Policy & Practice": New Zealand Association for Environmental Education Conference, Hamilton, New Zealand, 17 - 19 January 2001.

In January 2002, the New Zealand Association for Environmental Education (NZAEE) is bringing environmental educators together to discuss, debate and demonstrate the practice and theory of environmental education in New Zealand today.

This year’s conference, A Place for You, aims to promote skills and practical knowledge to further environmental education within the school curriculum, government agencies, business and rural and urban communities. By highlighting at every stage the crucial links between people, policy and practice, the conference will provide an invaluable guide to environmental education in New Zealand.

The conference will include speakers, workshops, field trips and exhibitions covering a wide range of topics. It will be of interest to environmental educators working in central and local government, business, schools, outdoor education centres, rural communities, museums, zoos and community education.

Further details:



Rethinking Science and Technology Education to Meet the Demands for Future Generations in a Changing World, 28 July - 2 August 2002, Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil

Symposium Address/Queries: All queries about the symposium and contributions should be directed to:

Professor Nelio Bizzo, Faculdade de Educação, Universidade de São Paulo, 10th IOSTE Symposium, Av. da Universidade, 308, 05508-900 São Paulo, SP, Brasil. Phone: +55 11 3818 4927/4928, FAX: +55 11 3818 3149, + 55 11 3816 8168. e-mail:, homepage:


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


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

The Boston TEE Party is a celebration of 'Total Environmental Education'! This is the rich, multi-faceted, lifelong environmental education that encourages,welcomes and encompasses a diversity of concepts, mediums, formats, methodologies and approaches. The "The Boston Tee Party" will follow four strands, each in some way reflective of Boston's pivotal place in US (and world) history. Each strand will feature workshops,concurrent sessions, poster sessions, interacts and a keynote speaker.

Strand 1: From Nature to Sustainability: Environmental Education through Time. This strand will encompass environmental education as a tool for teaching science and natural history. Environmental education programs have taken place for many years in both formal and informal settings. Some of the basic tried and true methods are still as effective today as they were fifty years ago. But the field has also grown and expanded over the years, as new exciting and innovative programs have been added to the environmental education menu over the years. Programs developed by non-profits, schools, and like organizations will be highlighted as well as the impacts ee has had on the formal education system .This is where curricula like PLT, WET, Project WILD, watershed education programs, forestry programs, etc. will fall.

Strand 2: Designing and Planning Spaces for People: Environmental Education's Role in Community Character & Community Appearance. Environmental education is key to developing positive attitudes towards stewardship of our communities. Referred to as sustainability, sense of place, community character or any other term, a community's identity and livability are essential to its viability. As our communities grow and expand there is a tendency to create homogenous environments across the world, removing the individuality and unique characteristics of urban, suburban and rural communities; characteristics that were once treasured because of land formations, natural elements and cultural influences. Community design and planning, landscape design, architecture, visual character and pollution, land use and the impacts of sprawl on the environment will be addressed through these sessions.

Strand 3: Towards the just city: Environmental Justice and Diversity through Environmental Education. Recent research has shown that States with greatest inequalities have less stringent environmental policies ie human inequality is bad for environmental quality. Taking a world wide view, sessions under this strand will deal with the importance of including environmental justice and equity issues as a theme which permeates environmental education. This Strand will include issues of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation amongst others. The concepts of 'difference', cultural competency and diversity of both audience and providers in environmental education will also be incorporated into this Strand.

Strand 4: Leading the way: The Role of Higher Education in Environmental Education. Higher education institutions are pivotal in creating the kind of just and sustainable futures towards which we must move. They have a major impact on environmental education through better campus management, links with local communities, their degree programs, pre-service teacher training, in-service workshops and research. The contributions and impacts of environmental education programs and research in colleges and universities around the world will be addressed through these sessions.

Further details: Julian Agyeman, Assistant Professor, Department of Urban and Environmental Policy, Tufts University, Medford, MA 02155. Telephone: + 1 617-627-3394, Fax: +1 617-627-3377. Email:,


Upcoming conferences

This is 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.

October 2001

16-17 October 2001:  International Forum of Democratic Citizenship Education 2001, Korean Educational Development Institute (KEDI).

November 2001

7-11 Nov 2001:  The 6th International History, Philosophy and Science Teaching Conference will be held in Denver (

26-27 November 2001: Contemporary Approaches to Research in Mathematics, Science, Health and Environmental Education, Centre for Studies in Mathematics, Science and Environmental Education, Deakin University. 

December 2001

2-6 December 2001: "Crossing Boundaries - New Frontiers for Educational Research" Australian Association for Research in Education, 2001 International Education Research Conference, Perth Western Australia  (

10-13 December 2001: "Using ICT for Quality Teaching, Learning and Effective Management": 7th Annual UNESCO-ACEID International Conference on Education. Bangkok, Thailand (

January 2002

3-6 January 2002: 15th International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement, Copenhagen, Denmark (

17-19 January 2001: "A Place for You: Linking People, Policy & Practice": New Zealand Association for Environmental Education Conference, Hamilton, New Zealand (

April 2002

1-5 April 2002: American Educational Research Association, New Orleans, USA (

7-10 April 2002: National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST 2002), New Orleans, USA (

July 2002

July 2002: 51th Conference of the Australian Science Teachers Association (CONASTA 51), Hobart Tas.

July 2002: 33nd Annual Conference of the Australasian Science Education Research Association (ASERA). Melbourne, Vic.

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

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

Last updated: 1 October 2001

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