Incorporating Indigenous Knowledge into the Curriculum: Responses of Science Teacher Educators

By Jon Austin and Andrew Hickey.

Published by The International Journal of Science in Society

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In many parts of the world, concerns to enact a practical reconciliation between indigenous and coloniser populations are finding their expression through various action plans and formal social initiatives. At base, such initiatives require the acknowledgement of both colonial injustices and the awareness of and respect for the strength, wisdom and holistic integrity of displaced/colonised knowledge systems. In the Australian context, draft national curricula in five areas—English, Maths, Science, History and Art—all reflect a concern to incorporate local indigenous knowledge and perspectives into each respective syllabus. While there have been attempts to attach aspects of indigenous knowledge to various strands of individual State curricula in the past, the present national concern would require something of a reconceptualisation of what constitutes, for example, Science as currently taught in schools. This paper presents initial findings from a larger research project that aims to identify the concerns and opportunities presented by a rethinking of the nature of Science as a result of the national curriculum process. Here, the reactions to and ideas of arguably central figures in any successful reorientation of “official knowledge” in school-based teaching—teacher educators—are presented by way of suggesting challenges, possibilities and imperatives for the genuine incorporation of local indigenous knowledge into the formal school Science curriculum.

Keywords: Indigenous Knowledge, National Science Curriculum, Teacher Educators

The International Journal of Science in Society, Volume 2, Issue 4, pp.139-152. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 976.623KB).

Jon Austin

Associate Professor, Critical Educators' Network, Faculty of Education, University of Southern Queensland, TOOWOOMBA, Queensland, Australia

Jon Austin is an Associate Professor and member of the Critical Educators’ Network based in the Faculty of Education at the University of Southern Queensland. His current academic and research interests reside broadly within the areas of cultural studies and critical pedagogy; identity & difference; postcolonial and decolonial praxis; indigenous knowledge and transformative pedagogies. He is the editor and co-author of three books (Culture & Identity 2005, Re-Presenting Education 2006, and Educating for Healthy Communities 2007). His doctoral work was in the area of whiteness and white identity.

Dr. Andrew Hickey

Lecturer- Cultural Studies and Social Theory, Faculty of Education, University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia

Andrew Hickey is a member of the Centre for Research in Transformative Pedagogy and Lecturer in Social Theory and Cultural Studies in the Faculty of Education, USQ. He has published in the areas of identity, representation politics, critical pedagogy and qualitative research methodologies and is the author of (Re) Presenting Education (with Jon Austin) published by Pearson in 2006. Andrew is also a musician and plays in blues-rock bands whilst maintaining a collection of Fender Stratocaster guitars. Between playing in bands and keeping his two boys under control, he completed his Doctoral studies by ethnographically investigating applications and ideas of “community” in contemporary urban settings.