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The current development towards ‘science for all’ in all parts of the globe necessitates that consideration be given to how pupils move between their everyday life‐world and the world of school science, how pupils deal with cognitive conflicts between those two worlds, and what this means for effective teaching of science. This paper reviews a new cognitive explanation‐‐collateral learning theory‐‐for how pupils cope with disparate worldviews mediated by transcending cultural borders between their everyday culture and the culture of science. The assistance that most pupils receive when they attempt to negotiate these cultural borders will influence their success at science. A new pedagogy is proposed in which teachers assume a role of culture broker in the classroom to achieve culturally sensitive curriculum and assessment.
Transcending Cultural Borders: Implications for Science Teaching
Olugbemiro J. JEGEDE and Glen S. AIKENHEAD
Published in
Journal for Science & Technology Education, 1999, vol. 17, no. 1, pp. 45-66.
Centre for Research in Distance
& Adult Learning
The Open University of Hong Kong
30 Good Shepherd Street
Homantin, Kowloon
College of Education
University of Saskatchewan
28 Campus Drive
Saskatoon, SK, S7N 0X1
The current development towards “science for all” in all parts of the globe necessitates
that consideration be given to how pupils move between their everyday life-world and the world
of school science, how pupils deal with cognitive conflicts between those two worlds, and what
this means for effective teaching of science. This paper reviews a new cognitive explanation —
collateral learning theory — for how pupils cope with disparate worldviews mediated by
transcending cultural borders between their everyday culture and the culture of science. The
assistance that most pupils receive when they attempt to negotiate these cultural borders will
influence their success at science. A new pedagogy is proposed in which teachers assume a role
of culture broker in the classroom to achieve culturally sensitive curriculum and assessment.
Perhaps spurred on by reform efforts such as the National Curriculum in the UK, the
National Research Council's Standards and AAAS's Project 2061 in the USA, or UNESCO's
Project 2000+, science educators have reopened a global discussion about new directions in
science education (KEDI, 1997). Many nations are currently rethinking their needs and priorities
for school science in terms of “science for all.” Some reformers have targeted conceptual change
as a focus for education change. However, the limited success of the conceptual change
movement, according to McTaggart (1991), is due to its narrow superficiality grounded on
psychological constructs. Others suggest that contemporary work on conceptual change
instruction should be grounded on a social constructivist pedagogy (Werstch & Toma, 1992).
Social constructivism characterises the nature of knowledge to include the following: (1)
knowledge is not a passive commodity to be transferred from a teacher to learners, (2) pupils
cannot and should not be made to absorb knowledge in a spongy fashion, (3) knowledge cannot
exist separate from the knower, (4) learning is a social process mediated by the learner’s
environment, and (5) the prior or indigenous knowledge of the learner is of significance in
accomplishing the construction of meaning in a new situation. All learning is mediated by
culture and takes place in a social context. The role of the social context is to scaffold the
learner, and provide hints and help that foster co-construction of knowledge while interacting
with other members of the society (Linn & Burbules, 1993). Contemporary literature has shown
that recognising the social context of learning, as well as the effect of the learner’s socio-cultural
background in the teaching and learning of science, is of primary importance if a strong basic
foundation is to be established for successful pupil achievement and affect outcomes (Cobern,
1994; Driver, 1979; Jegede, 1995; Ogawa, 1986; Ogunniyi, 1988; Solomon, 1989). Indeed, the
call appears now to be for culture sensitive science education which probes what actually occurs
in the minds and hearts of learners when they are being taught science (Hewson, 1988; Solomon,
1987). This is particularly relevant in the present circumstance in which the science education
community seems to be travelling toward two destinations: understanding concept learning, and
developing science-for-all programs.
In this article, we argue that these two destinations can be achieved simultaneously by
giving attention to (1) the cross cultural experiences of most pupils when they attempt to
construct scientific knowledge, and (2) a cognitive explanation (collateral learning theory) of
that experience. These two ideas are presented and then synthesised in the context of teaching
science. Implications for teaching will describe new teaching roles, strategies, and curricula.
A Multicultural Perspective
As we negotiate through the maze of daily interactions, we come across a mesh of
different cultures or sub-cultures (Cobern, 1993; Jegede, 1995; Medvitz, 1996). For instance, a
pupil encounters the culture of home, the culture of peers, the culture of school, the culture of the
science classroom, and the over arching culture determined by the community in which the pupil
lives. The concept of ‘culture’ is a shared way of living which includes knowing, valuing,
interaction with others, feeling, etc. (Geertz, 1993). These characteristics of culture help explain
the differences between a pupil's home culture and the culture of school science. The
characteristics also differentiate between the various social groupings within the community:
sub-cultures of the dominant genres of cultures. Whenever pupils enter the world of school
science, it soon becomes evident that science too, is another culture with which s/he has to
interact, bringing with him/her the other baggage of cultures s/he already carries. It does not take
too long for the pupil to recognise that the science being taught at school has been influenced by
the culture of the scientific community itself.
In an anthropological study, Traweek (1992) described the culture of a high-energy
physics community:
A community is a group of people with a shared past, with ways of recognizing and
displaying their differences from other groups, and expectations for a shared future. Their
culture is the ways, the strategies they recognize and use and invent for making sense,
from common sense to disputes, from teaching to learning, it is also their ways of making
things and making use of them ... . (pp. 437-438, italics in the original)
Traweek uncovered some coping behaviours by Japanese physicists as they negotiated
transitions between the sub-culture of their Japanese national physics community and the sub-
culture of the international physics community. She found that risks, power, and subjectivity
were all intermingled in ways that encouraged conformity with the national physics community,
and therefore made border crossing into the international community difficult for the Japanese
Consistent with both Geertz’s (1973) and Traweek’s (1992) ideas of culture, Phelan,
Davidson and Cao (1991, p. 228) suggested that culture be conceptualised as the “norms, values,
beliefs, expectations, and conventional actions” of a group. This cogent definition will guide our
exploration of cultural border crossing and collateral learning in science education. Canonical
science content will be subsumed under “beliefs.” (For an overview of other definitions of
culture used in science education, see Aikenhead, 1996, p. 8).
From the viewpoint of cultural anthropology, to learn science is to acquire the culture of
science (Maddock, 1981; Wolcott, 1991). To acquire the culture of science, pupils must travel
from their everyday life-world to the world of science found in their science classroom. More
often than not, and more pervasive within local cultures in less industrialised or non-western
regions of the world, the imported science curriculum or indeed the western science taught at
school is often shown to be more superior to knowledge within the local culture. According to
Taylor and Cobern (1998):
local cultures are in danger of suffering erosion and loss of integrity as a powerful
culture-insensitive science education, operating through the agency of local schools,
delegitimates and rapidly displaces traditional ways of knowing, being and valuing.
Needless to say, this exerts a significant effect on achievement in schoolwork (Jegede, 1988;
Jegede & Okebukola, 1989; Okebukola & Jegede, 1990), and in other cognitive activities
(Glaser, 1991). Ogbu (1992) states that school learning and performance are influenced by
complex social, economic, historical, and cultural factors. As a result, the less than friendly clash
of cultures within the science classroom might lead to the loss of meaningful learning of science
necessary for useful application in understanding nature outside of the school. The learning of
what is therefore central to science education is inevitably lost within a system which legitimises
the so-called superiority of the imported culture over the life-world experiences of the learner.
Different cultural processes are involved in the acquisition of science culture. When the
culture of science generally harmonises with a pupil’s life-world culture, science instruction will
tend to support the pupils’ view of the world, and the process of enculturation tends to occur
(Contreras and Lee, 1990; Hawkins and Pea, 1987; Wolcott, 1991). This process is characterised
by smooth border crossings into school science.
However, when the culture of science is generally at odds with a pupil’s life-world,
science instruction will tend to disrupt the pupil’s worldview by trying to force that pupil to
abandon or marginalise his or her life-world concepts and reconstruct in their place new
(scientific) ways of conceptualizing. This process is assimilation. Assimilation can alienate
pupils from their Indigenous life-world culture, thereby causing various social disruptions (Baker
and Taylor, 1995; Maddock, 1981); or alternatively, attempts at assimilation can alienate pupils
from science, thereby causing them to develop clever ways (school games) to pass their science
courses without learning the content in a meaningfully way assumed by the school and
The game can have explicit rules which Larson (1995) discovered as “Fatima’s rules,”
named after an articulate pupil in a high school chemistry class. For example, one rule advises us
not to read the textbook but to memorise the bold faced words and phrases. Fatima’s rules can
include such coping or passive-resistance mechanisms as “silence, accommodation, ingratiation,
evasiveness, and manipulation” (Atwater, 1996, p. 823). What results is not meaningful learning
but merely “communicative competence” (Kelly and Green, in press) or “an accouterment to
specific rituals and practices of the science classroom” (Medvitz, 1996, p. 5). Loughran and
Derry (1997) investigated pupils reactions to a science teachers’ concerted effort to teach for
meaningful learning (“deep understanding”). The researchers found a reason for Fatima’s rules
that helps explain the avoidance of assimilation for some pupils, a reason related to the culture of
public schools.
The need to develop a deep understanding of the subject may not have been viewed by
them [the pupils] as being particularly important as progression through the schooling
system could be achieved without it. In this case such a view appears to have been very
well reinforced by Year 9. This is not to suggest that these students were poor learners,
but rather that they had learnt how to learn sufficiently well to succeed in school without
expending excessive time or effort. (p. 935)
Their teacher lamented, “No matter how well I think I teach a topic, the students only seem to
learn what they need to pass the test, then, after the test, they forget it all anyway” (p. 925). On
the other hand, Tobin and McRobbie (1997, p. 366) documented a teacher’s complicity in
Fatima’s rules: “There was a close fit between the goals of Mr. Jacobs and those of the students
and satisfaction with the emphasis on memorisation of facts and procedures to obtain the correct
answers needed for success on tests and examinations.” When playing Fatima’s rules, pupils
(and some teachers) go through the motions to make it appear as if meaningful learning has
occurred, but at best rote memorization of key terms and processes is only achieved temporarily.
For a large majority of pupils, science teaching is experienced as an attempt to assimilate
them (Costa, 1995; Ogawa, 1995). A vast array of science education research into pupils’
construction of scientific concepts concludes that most pupils exhibit creativity and intransigence
in their quest to circumvent the construction of scientific concepts (Driver et al., 1994; Loughran
and Derry, 1977; Pfundt and Duit, 1994; West and Pines, 1985), that is, to circumvent
assimilation and at the same time, avoid expending unnecessary effort.
When pupils learn science within a multicultural environment (inclusive of science being
treated as a subculture of Western environment) they need to move between their everyday life-
world and the world of school science. For a small proportion of pupils, crossing these cultural
borders does not present problems serious enough to affect their learning of science. But many
do experience serious problems and must deal with cognitive conflicts between those two
worlds. According to Aikenhead and Jegede (1998, in press), this conflict is played out daily in
science classrooms around the world where science pupils are expected to construct scientific
concepts meaningfully; for example, in Africa where pupils’ traditional cosmologies (Jegede and
Okebukola, 1991) conflict with the norms, values, beliefs, expectations and conventional actions
of the Western science community; in Canada where First Nations pupils’ Indigenous culture
tends to be at odds with the culture of Western science (Aikenhead, 1997); and in the United
States where mainstream Euro-American pupils with aesthetic or religious orientations toward
nature reject the worldview of Western science and choose not to learn it in any meaningful way
(Cobern, 1996).
These cultural clashes between pupils’ life-worlds and the world of Western science can
create hazards for many pupils who they must deal with to learn science effectively and
meaningfully. In response to such hazards, pupils understandably invent ways to avoid
constructing scientific (“foreign”) knowledge, or pupils conveniently store the constructed
scientific knowledge in their minds out of harms way from interfering with their life-world
experiences. The cultural clashes between pupils’ life-worlds and the world of Western science
present a challenge to science educators. These clashes create a major obstacle to many reform
movements around the world that have taken on a science-for-all ideology. Specifically it makes
science teaching a Herculean task and the meaningful learning of science an ordeal for many
pupils. The ideas of cultural border crossing and collateral learning can inform this worldwide
discussion by offering new insights into the resolution of familiar problems related to the
teaching and learning of science.
Cultural Border Crossings
The idea of cultural border crossing emerged from Giroux’s 1992 book Border
Crossings: Cultural Workers and the Politics of Education. In it he contrasts modernist and
postmodernist views on education. On the one hand, modernism defines borders and locates
people within those borders along with the social and political power afforded each location. On
the other hand, postmodernism encourages people to have multiple identities by living in a world
of border crossings, and living with multiple narratives that define reality (p. 54), for example,
narratives that sustain a pupil’s home culture and narratives that allow for his or her participation
in the world of science.
In a detailed self study of border crossing, Lugones (1987) revealed a personal account of
“travelling” from her own world of a woman of colour to the often hostile world of the White
Anglo male. Her account echoes the multiple narratives of many pupils when they cross
hazardous borders from their familiar life-world cultures into the unfamiliar culture of school
science. Lugones became accomplished in the Anglo male’s world without losing her own way
of thinking, because she learned to cross hazardous borders effectively. Her experiences
suggested the following ingredients for successful border crossing: a sense of flexibility,
playfulness, and/or feelings of ease. These ingredients help clarify the human capacity to think
differently in different cultures, a capacity that has implications for pupils’ success at learning
In the context of teaching science for all, Aikenhead and Jegede (1998) described the act
of cultural border crossing into school science and its cognitive explanation (collateral learning).
They drew upon cultural anthropology which regards the learning of science as the acquisition of
the culture of science. They opine that to acquire the culture of science, pupils must travel from
their everyday life-world to the world of science found in their science classroom. A brief
summary of this border crossing is presented here.
The capacity to think differently in diverse cultures (everyday and science cultures, for
instance), and the capacity to resolve conflicting beliefs between those cultures, are familiar
human traits. However, these capacities are not equally shared among all people, as
anthropologists Phelan et al. (1991) discovered when they investigated pupils’ movement
between the worlds (sub-cultures) of families, peer groups, school, and classrooms:
Many adolescents are left to navigate transitions without direct assistance from persons in
any of their contexts, most notably the school. Further, young people’s success in
managing these transitions varies widely. (p. 224)
Costa (1995) studied pupils’ varied success at moving between the sub-culture of their family
and the sub-culture of their science classroom. She confirmed Phelan et al.’s findings and
proposed a categorisation scheme that described pupils in terms of their ease of navigating the
cultural border into school science. Four categories of pupils are:
1. Potent Scientists whose transitions are smooth because the cultures of family and science
are congruent;
2. Other Smart Kids whose transitions are manageable because the two cultures are
somewhat different;
3. “I Don't Know” Students whose transitions tend to be hazardous when the two cultures
are diverse; and
4. Outsiders whose transitions are virtually impossible because the cultures are highly
This categorisation scheme will be used extensively throughout this article.
One overwhelming conclusion emerges from educational research in cultural
anthropology (Aikenhead & Jegede, 1998): success in science courses depends on (1) the degree
of cultural difference that pupils perceive between their life-world and their science classroom,
(2) how effectively pupils move between their life-world culture and the culture of science or
school science, and (3) the assistance pupils receive in making those transitions easier.
Border Crossings
A concept that describes the high risk of failure during cultural border crossing is
“cultural violence,” the explicit version of Bourdieu's (1992) tacit “symbolic violence.” When
language or conventional actions of a group have little or no meaning to a person who happens
to be immersed in that group and who needs to accomplish some action, the person can
experience cultural violence. In the context of a world traveller, a Chicago businessperson, for
instance, may experience cultural violence at a Tokyo hotel when he or she needs to take a
shower and discovers that the only place is the public bath located on the tenth floor. Public
bathing, a conventional action in Japanese culture, may cause cultural violence to any traveller
who harbours a psychological need for privacy when bathing. The cultural symbol of the public
bath causes anguish to the Chicago traveller due to the dilemma between the need to bathe and
the high risk of mental discomfort. For the traveller experiencing cultural violence, border
crossing becomes hazardous at best (somehow one copes), or impossible at worst (one does not
take a bath).
In the context of life in the Solomon Islands, border crossing between urban and rural
settings caused anguish for some high school pupils but not others. Science pupils in the main
city of Honiara talked about going to rural villages and encountering the idioms and technologies
of magic endemic to the Indigenous culture of the Solomon Islands (Lowe, 1995). For pupils
who grew up in a village, the transition back into rural life was automatic, natural, and smooth.
But for pupils born and raised in Honiara, the cultural border crossing was difficult and
hazardous. These pupils reacted to practices of magic as forms of symbolic violence.
In the context of pupils learning science, O’Loughlin (1992), Tobin (1996) and Lee
(1997b) argue that the language and conventional actions of many Euro-American teachers in
science classrooms may be experienced as cultural violence by pupils belonging to a culture
different from the teacher’s culture. In non-Western countries, the science curriculum itself may
be experienced as cultural violence by pupils who strongly believe in their community’s
Indigenous belief system, whether it be anthropomorphic Africa (Jegede, 1995) or Solomon
Island magic (Lowe, 1995). Science education worldwide aims to eradicate cultural violence and
to nurture equitable opportunities for success for all pupils (UNESCO, 1994). Because success at
science depends in large measure on how effectively pupils can move between their life-world
culture and the culture of science, it is imperative to understand how these border crossings take
place in order to plan and develop effective and sensitive instruction
Collateral Learning
Effective cultural border crossing is indeed a complex event. The cognitive experience of
border crossing is captured by the theory of collateral learning (Jegede, 1995). The phenomenon
to which collateral learning refers is universal and well known worldwide and the theory was
proposed to explain why many pupils, non-Western and Western, experienced culturally related
cognitive dissonance in their science classes (Jegede, 1995).
Collateral learning generally involves two or more conflicting schemata held
simultaneously in long-term memory. Jegede (1995, 1996, 1997) recognised variations in the
degree to which the conflicting ideas interact with each other and the degree to which conflicts
are resolved. Collateral learning theory postulates a spectrum of cognitive experiences (parallel,
simultaneous, dependent, and secured collateral learning) to explain cultural border crossings
These four types of collateral learning are not separate categories but points along a spectrum
depicting degrees of interaction/resolution.
At one extreme of collateral learning, the conflicting schemata do not interact at all. This
is parallel collateral learning, the compartmentalization technique. Pupils will access one schema
or the other depending upon the context. For example, pupils will use a scientific concept of
energy only in school, never in their everyday world where commonsense concepts of energy
prevail (Solomon, 1983). This segregation of school science content within the minds of pupils
was called “cognitive apartheid” by Cobern (1996).
At the opposite extreme of collateral learning, conflicting schemata consciously interact
and the conflict is resolved in some manner. This is secured collateral learning. The person will
have developed a satisfactory reason for holding on to both schemata even though the schemata
may appear to conflict, or else the person will have achieved a convergence toward commonality
by one schema reinforcing the other, resulting in a new conception in long-term memory.
Various ways to resolve conflicts and to achieve secured collateral learning are described in the
next section of this article.
Between these two extremes of parallel and secured collateral learning we find varying
degrees and types of interaction between conflicting schemata, and we detect various forms of
conflict resolution. In this context it will be convenient to designate points in between the two
extremes, one of which is called dependent collateral learning. For many pupils, learning science
in order to imbibe its culture meaningfully often involves cognitive conflicts of some kind.
Therefore, meaningful learning often results in parallel, dependent, or secured collateral
learning. For a learner who needs to move into the culture of science, s/he requires an effective
use of collateral learning with a heavy reliance on successful cultural border crossings into
school science.
Cross-Cultural Science Education
In many different cultural settings educators have anguished over teaching Western
science without assimilating pupils at the expense of diminishing pupils' cultural identities
(Baker and Taylor, 1995; Hodson, 1993; Jegede, 1995; Kawagley, 1995; Lee, 1997b; Lowe,
1995; MacIvor, 1995; Nelson-Barber and Estrin, 1995; Ogbu, 1992; O'Loughlin, 1992; Philips,
1972; Pomeroy, 1994). Kaunda (1966) in Africa, for example, voiced the dilemma in terms of
preserving what is good in pupils' personal cultural tradition while at the same time allowing
them to benefit from Western science and technology. His position occupies the middle ground
between two extremes: the total assimilation into Western science, and the rejection of Western
Science educators have developed innovative programs, new curriculum, and creative
instruction to help pupils. By engendering a feeling of ease in the culture of science, educators
have tried to encourage pupils to cross cultural borders into school science. Pomeroy (1994)
reviewed this literature and found nine different (and overlapping) research agendas. Her work
frames several decades of research and development in multicultural and cross-cultural science
education. The nine agendas are listed here along with some major research findings.
1. Systems or Programs to Support Under-Represented Groups: Role models are less
effective than mentors. A critical mass of “minority” scientists is highly effective, but
how to best achieve a critical mass remains debatable. No long-term or exemplary
programs have been identified.
2. Situate the Science Curriculum in the Context of Pupils' Lives: Research is only
beginning to focus on local autonomy for curriculum development and pupil assessment.
Examples of a relevant localised context for science instruction can be cited, but their
impact has not been systematically studied.
3. Culturally Sensitive Instruction Strategies: Research has focussed on identifying the
problems that exist (discrepancies between pupils and their science classes in terms of
interpersonal mores, conventions and expectations, such as eye contact, questioning,
authoritarianism, etc.) and focussed on theoretical frameworks that should address the
problem. Teachers' high expectations of pupils appear to improve achievement.
4. Inclusion of Scientific Contributions made Historically by Non-Western Scholars.
Western science has appropriated knowledge of nature from other cultures, thus giving
the impression that other cultures have not helped in the historical development of
Western science. Systematic studies have not yet assessed this initiative.
5. Demystifying Stereotype Images of Science: Stereotype images of science (e.g. science is
purely objective and value-free) inhibit many pupils from wanting to learn science. The
“nature of science” literature is extensive with systematic studies offering an array of
implications for teaching science.
6. Science for Language Minority Pupils: Learning science in a language not in one's
mother tongue, creates major problems for one's achievement. Mother tongue instruction
is the best solution.
7. Indigenous Knowledge and Technologies for Science to Explain: By addressing pupils'
cultural heritage as objects of scientific inquiry or explanation, pupils' attitude toward
science tends to improve. For instance, by simply acknowledging omens and taboos
(without discussing them in terms of scientific principles) in science classrooms, pupils
tend to transcend cultural barriers (to cross borders) between their Indigenous culture and
the culture of science. The instructional outcome will likely be dependent collateral
learning, it could be parallel collateral learning if the “truth-will-out-device” (Roth and
Alexander, 1997) were used.
8. Compare and Bridge the Worldview of Science and the Worldviews of Pupils. Pupils'
scientific preconceptions (the object of constructivist teachings) can be perfectly logical
when considered in terms of a pupil's worldview, and therefore, efforts to modify the
preconception will be ineffective. Effective teaching tends to use science activities that
do not conflict with pupils' beliefs, or alternatively, activities that attend to those beliefs
but provide bridges between them and the scientific content. The instructional outcome
will likely be parallel or simultaneous collateral learning.
9. Explore the Content and Epistemology of Both Scientific and Indigenous Knowledge
Systems: The exploration encourages pupils to identify any conflicts between the two
systems and to feel secure with those conflicts. The impact on pupils has not yet been
studied extensively. The instructional outcome will usually be secured collateral learning.
Agendas 1 to 6 tend to assimilate pupils into Western science, whereas agendas 7 to 9 challenge
us to conceive of alternatives to assimilation (and to Fatima's rules); a challenge clarified by the
concepts of cultural bordering crossing and collateral learning.
Implications for Science Teaching
Cultural differences between a pupil and school science inspired a cross-culture
pedagogical paradigm for teaching science — a conceptual ecocultural paradigm: “a state in
which the growth and development of an individual's perception of knowledge is drawn from the
sociocultural environment in which the learner lives and operates” (Jegede, 1995, p. 124). This
approach to teaching science was recommended by Jegede primarily for Africans, by
Arseculeratne (1997) for Sri Lankans, by Nelson-Barber and Estrin (1995) for Native
Americans, by Pomeroy (1992) for Native Alaskans, by Ogawa (1995) for Japanese pupils, by
George and Glasgow (1988) for Caribbeans, by Solomon (1992) for all pupils, and by Aikenhead
(1996) for Western pupils who are not Potential Scientists (using Costa's [1995] category
scheme). Teaching science within an ecocultural paradigm aims to empower pupils to feel at
ease (in the Lugones [1987] sense of ease) in each culture, for instance, the culture of science
and the pupil's Indigenous life-world cultures. According to Jegede (1995), a conceptual
ecocultural paradigm consists of the following features:
1. generating information about the pupil's everyday environment to explain natural
2. identifying and using the Indigenous scientific and technological principles, theories, and
concepts within the pupil's community.
3. teaching the typical values of the Indigenous community in relation to, and in the practice
of, science and technology as human enterprises.
Because all three features relate to Lugones' (1987) criteria for feeling at ease in a “foreign”
culture, the features should help pupils negotiate their cultural borders into school science. In
short, the ecocultural paradigm acknowledges cultural differences, provides emotional support
for pupils, and sets the stage for cross-cultural instruction.
Because success in science courses depends on how effectively pupils move between
their life-world culture and the culture of science, other implications for teaching science
(complementary to, and overlapping with, Jegede's ecocultural paradigm) have been proposed
(Aikenhead, 1996, 1997b; Cobern and Aikenhead, 1997):
1. Make border crossings explicit for pupils.
2. Facilitate these border crossings.
3. Promote discourse so pupils are: (a) talking in their own cultural interpretive framework
as well as in the framework of Western science without cultural violence, (b) immersed
in either the pupils' Indigenous life-world culture or the culture of science, and (c)
cognizant about which culture they are talking in at any given time.
4. Substantiate and build on the validity of pupils' personally and culturally constructed
ways of knowing.
5. Teach the canonical content of Western science and technology in the context of
science's societal roles, for instance, science's social, political, military, colonial, and
economic roles.
These implications strengthen agenda 9 in Pomeroy's (1994) cross-culture research agendas, but
they may not be comfortable for pupils with a holistic outlook on knowledge (described in
Aikenhead & Jegede, 1998), and they may seem foreign to many Potential Scientists who desire
enculturation into science.
The promotion of discourse among pupils was the object of extensive study by Roth
(1997). He argued that the social construction of scientific knowledge required “interpretive
flexibility,” a multiple-world approach to understanding the existence of multiple views among
people (particularly within the scientific community). Interpretive flexibility allowed pupils “to
change from their everyday discourse to that of canonical science” (p. 392). Roth concluded:
“We found that such changes in discourse were facilitated when pupils had the opportunity to
work and talk together, but in the absence of a perceived authority which often inhibits their first
attempts in trying out a new discourse” (p. 392). On the other hand, Driver et al. (1994) argued
that pupils’ discourse in science can be facilitated by a teacher who introduces vocabulary and
syntax at appropriate places during a pupil-centred discussion. Much more research along these
lines is needed to understand the function of pupil discourse in meaningful learning.
Although the five implications listed above were originally proposed for most Western
pupils (non-Potential Scientists) studying in technologically developed countries, the
implications also correspond to curriculum proposals for pupils in developing countries (Jegede,
1997; Lowe, 1995; Medvitz, 1985; Yoong, 1986), as well as for pupils traditionally marginalised
from science in Western industrialised countries (Atwater, 1996; Lee, 1997b).
Teacher as Culture Broker
Success in science courses depends on teachers helping pupils mediate or negotiate
cultural borders and engage in some form of collateral learning. The metaphor “teacher as
culture broker” was used by Stairs (1995) to analyse a teacher's role in resolving cultural
conflicts that arise in cross-cultural education. A science teacher who is a culture broker will
guide pupils between their life-world culture and the culture of science, and help them resolve
any conflicts. Atwater (1996) described this role as a coordinator, facilitator, and resource person
in multicultural education, while in a sociological paradigm, Kelly and Green (in press) talked
about a “social mediator.”
For pupils who require a high degree of guidance when border crossing, just like tourists
in a foreign country on a guided bus tour, teachers will be tour-guide culture brokers. Drawing
upon Costa's (1995) scheme, we would describe their pupils as predominantly “I Don't Know”
Students, and perhaps Outsiders who are amenable to becoming “I Don't Know” Students within
a supportive ecocultural paradigm and with an effective culture-broker teacher. A tour-guide
culture broker takes pupils to some of the principal sites in the culture of science (its significant
phenomena, knowledge, skills, and values) and coaches pupils on what to look for and how to
use it in their everyday lives outside of school. A tour guide helps smooth the otherwise
hazardous or impossible border crossings that pupils face. A tour-guide teacher often expects
that a science course will develop an appreciation of science, not unlike a music appreciation
course that aims to guide pupils through the world of music and its critique, without requiring
them to compose music or exhibit virtuosity with an instrument. The role of tour guide does not
imply didactic teaching methods; a much wider repertoire of methods is needed (Aikenhead,
For pupils who require much less guidance when border crossing, just like world
travellers in a foreign country making their own way around, teachers will be travel-agent
culture brokers. Their pupils will be predominantly Other Smart Kids, also learning within an
ecocultural paradigm. A travel-agent teacher provides incentives for pupils, such as topics,
issues, activities, or events that create the need to know the culture of science. The need to know
establishes an academic bridge between pupils' life-worlds and the culture of science. These
academic bridges represent less guidance than most “I Don't Know” Students need. Academic
bridges help Other Smart Kids manage their border crossings into the culture of science. The
bridges assist pupils in constructing key scientific abstractions (e.g. DNA) and assist them to be
articulate in analysing or critiquing the culture of science itself. Pupils will likely perceive the
sub-culture of science as interacting with other sub-cultures that form a fairly coherent unity in
their lives. The teacher's travel-agent role is one of co-learner facilitating issue-directed learning
(Ritchie, 1994).
A detailed comparison between tour-guide and travel-agent roles for culture-broker
science teachers is illustrated in Aikenhead (1996). The difference between the two roles is a
matter of degrees of guidance and pupil intellectual maturity, rather than different kinds of
guidance or differently types of intellectual maturity. The two roles are not dichotomous. In
either role, a teacher makes the culture of science accessible to pupils by methods predicated on
cross-cultural instruction (Atwater, 1996; Pomeroy, 1994) and guided by Lugones’ (1987)
flexibility, playfulness, and feelings of ease.
Ogawa's (1995) “multiscience” instruction supports a culture-broker role, as does
Nelson-Barber and Estrin's (1995, p. 24) view of science education for Native American pupils:
“The task for teachers ... becomes one of helping students mediate between their personal
meanings, their own culture-based systems, and the systems of school.” Culture broker is a fairly
new idea, but one that can make intuitive sense to teachers. We all can imagine how we would
introduce a foreigner into our own culture, under the constraints of formal schooling. The idea of
culture broker has potential for helping teachers hone their existing teaching strategies, or
reformulate and develop additional strategies, to harmonise with their classroom sub-culture and
personal practical knowledge.
Interactive Teaching Strategies
Many specific teaching strategies for culture brokers have yet to be identified, developed,
or investigated (Atwater, 1996; Battiste and Barman, 1995; Jegede, 1997; Lee, 1997b; Lee et al.,
1995; Pomeroy, 1994; Snively, 1995). However, some research has taken place by people
exploring the consequences of introducing interactive teaching strategies that relate school
content with the pupils' everyday world. (Interactivity among pupils and content relevancy for
pupils' lives are two criteria that seem to make the biggest difference to pupils' meaningful
achievement in science, Aikenhead, 1994.) In Nepal, for example, a researcher introduced a
strategy he called “a narrative approach” (Bajracharya and Brouwer, 1997). It was one way to
create a bridge between Nepalese and Western science cultures and to facilitate border crossings
between the two. The narrative approach involved small group discussions on questions as:
“Crows don't die a natural death, do they?” (p. 436). This was Bajracharya and Brouwer's way of
establishing, in small measure, a conceptual ecocultural paradigm in which Bajracharya and
three volunteer teachers began to play the role of culture broker for their pupils. It is also an
example of Pomeroy's (1994) agendas 7 and 8. The cultural obstacles that needed to be
overcome in the Nepalese schools were also investigated by the researchers. Teaching strategies
are neither culture-free nor ideologically neutral (Aikenhead, 1997a), and therefore, researchers
need to be sensitive to the cultural milieu where innovations are tested.
Another example of a strategy for culture broking in a science classroom comes from
Canada, where border crossing was made concrete for pupils by a line that divided a notebook
page in half forming two columns: “my ideas” and “culture of science ideas” (Aikenhead, 1996).
After exploring phenomena or discussing explanations, pupils made personal notes by writing
either in the “my ideas” column or in the “culture of science ideas” column, or both. Entries in
the science column signified a pupil's understanding of the content, not necessarily a pupil's
belief that the content is universally true (Cobern, 1996a; Ogunniyi, 1988). The dichotomised
notebook page served as a type of journal which helped guide pupils' thinking and their use of
language, just as a culture tour guide or travel agent would. It was up to the teacher to assess the
quality of the pupils' entries in both columns; both had a place in the assessment.
When moving back and forth over the line dividing the notebook page, a pupil
consciously moves back and forth between the everyday world (the pupil's cultural identity) and
the science world (the culture of science): switching terminology explicitly, switching language
frameworks and conventions explicitly, switching conceptualizations explicitly, switching
ontological assumptions explicitly, switching epistemologies explicitly, and switching values
explicitly. This is the essence of thinking differently in two different cultures. The notebook
technique by itself will not ensure smoother border crossings for pupils, but it may help a teacher
develop his or her own repertoire of cross-cultural teaching strategies.
Encouraging is Solomon's (1992) success with some pupils’ learning energy concepts.
She described how teachers explicitly coached pupils to move between their life-world and the
science-world, accentuating flexibility, playfulness, and feelings of ease. Snively (1995)
delineated 15 specific instructional strategies and considerations for culture brokers to use when
teaching Western science to First Nations pupils. These are summarised here:
1. Use a variety of materials and resources, and ensure that racially stereotyped material is
either eliminated or addressed in an anti-racist fashion.
2. “The oral narratives and heritage of the Native community should become part of the
school science experience” (p. 65). These should not be demeaned as being merely myth
and legend.
3. “The similarities and differences and the strengths and limitations of the two traditions
should be articulated and explored during instruction” (p. 66).
4. Teachers should give attention to the language of science and help pupils who are
accustomed to an oral tradition or who have language difficulties.
5. “Cultural imperialism should be acknowledged” (p. 66).
6. Integrate discussions about science with history, morality, justice, equality, freedom, and
7. Where possible, direct comparisons between classification schemes in both traditions
should be made.
8. Show pupils how concepts such as heat, snow, and life cycles are culture-laden in both
9. Instruction should provide sensory experiences and experiential pupil-centred learning.
10. “Instruction should identify local approaches for achieving sustainability” (p. 66).
11. The pupil's world should be related to science instruction.
12. Teachers should provide a “multicultural view” of science and technology by drawing
upon a variety of cultures when teaching science.
13. “Activities should be designed to help students recognize the likelihood of continual
change, conflict, ambiguity, and increasing interdependence” (p. 66).
14. Interactivity among pupils should encourage them to identify their own ideas and beliefs.
15. “Teaching strategies should emphasize solving science and technology problems,
environmental problems, resource management, and sustainable societies' problems” (p.
67). Pupil empowerment is the goal.
Snively's ideas, grounded in research and experience, offer practical advice and extend our
vision of a new pedagogy for cross-culture science teaching.
We have already recognised the negative consequences to attempts by conventional
science instruction to enculturate and/or assimilate pupils into science. We subscribe to the belief
that enculturation for Potential Scientists (a very small proportion of the pupil population) is in
many cases desirable. Our “no assimilation” rule would not preclude us from capturing pupil
interest or curiosity in science and then doing a good job at a rite-of-passage enculturation into
the culture of science (Costa, 1993; Hawkins and Pea, 1987). Because the process of
enculturation — producing scientists and engineers — has preoccupied the science education
community (Aikenhead, 1996; Contreras and Lee, 1990; Costa, 1993; Driver et al., 1994;
Hawkins and Pea, 1987; Pomeroy, 1994), the process of enculturation is given low priority in
this article, except in our exploration of collateral learning. Instead we privilege Other Smart
Kids, “I Don't Know” Students, and Outsiders, in all cultures; pupils who conventionally have
been the target of assimilation processes because their border crossings into school science have
not been smooth. Attempts to assimilate may work for Potential Scientists, but the attempts lead
most other pupils to Fatima's rules. What are the alternatives to enculturation and assimilation?
Two alternatives exist. The first one is acculturation, a process of intercultural borrowing or
adaptation in which a person incorporates attractive content or aspects of another culture into the
person's own culture (Spindler, 1987). To emphasise the empowerment of pupils and the
usefulness of the incorporated content, Aikenhead (1997b) used the term “autonomous
acculturation” in which:
a pupil borrows or adapts (incorporates) some content from Western science and
technology because the content appears useful to him/her, thereby replacing some former
indigenous views. Everyday thinking is an integrated combination of commonsense
thinking and some science/technology thinking. (p. 230)
Autonomous acculturation, associated with dependent collateral learning is demonstrated in a
case study of Luke, an Aboriginal boy in grade 6 studying the seashore (Snively, 1990). Luke's
teacher explicitly supported the culture of his First Nation, and she helped all her pupils
negotiate impossible or hazardous borders into school science. As a successful culture broker,
she was able to transform some Outsiders into “I Don't Know” Students, or even into Other
Smart Kids. Other examples of autonomous acculturation are detailed in Aikenhead (1996). One
feature of acculturation’s dependent collateral learning (for teachers to keep in mind) is the
modification or replacement of pupil's pre-existing schemata, a modification motivated by how
relevant the new schemata are to a pupil's cultural identity and life-world.
Autonomous acculturation is not the only alternative to enculturation and assimilation.
Pupils need not modify or relinquish pre-existing schemata before they understand science. In
other words, pupils need not modify their cultural identity to understand and participate in some
of the cultural ways of science (Ogunniyi, 1988). Instead, pupils might engage in parallel
collateral learning by adding a science schema (one that conflicts with pre-existing schemata) to
their long-term memory, and by compartmentalizing the science schema so no conflict is
experienced (Cobern's cognitive apartheid mentioned earlier). These pupils likely learn the
content of science in a way similar to an anthropologist learning a foreign culture (Medvitz,
1985, 1996). The culture of science is understood by pupils (just as anthropologists understand
another culture), but scientific thinking does not guide their everyday thinking; yet these pupils
can do either type of thinking, depending on the context. Thus, a different cultural process can be
identified to guide science teaching strategies, a process Aikenhead (1996, p. 34) called
“'anthropological' instruction of science.” Pupils are placed in a position similar to that of an
anthropologist. “Anthropological” instruction/learning recognises that many preconceptions are
highly useful to pupils in certain contexts (Hill, 1989; Kwon, 1997). Hence, when pupils learn
scientific explanations, they learn to contextualise those explanations as belonging to a “tribe” of
scientists, and at the same time, pupils are invited to use their preconceptions in appropriate
everyday contexts (but not science contexts). In other words, pupils are invited to use the “my
ideas” column or the “culture of science ideas” column in their notebook, depending on the
situation. This amounts to concept proliferation, rather than concept modification or replacement
(Solomon, 1987) and has been the object of research in the situated cognition paradigm
(Hennessy, 1993).
“Anthropological” instruction may seem too academic or too removed from the everyday
world to nurture feelings of ease for “I Don't Know” Students and Outsiders. It may appeal only
to Other Smart Kids, and perhaps to some Potential Scientists. “Anthropological” instruction
addresses the needs of pupils who find border crossings to be manageable or smooth. The culture
of science is treated as an intellectual game.
But the culture of science can also be treated as “a repository to be raided for what it can
contribute to the achievement of practical ends” (Layton et al., 1993). For instance, the
technological success of Japan in the 20th century was explained by Ogunniyi et al. (1995, p.
822): “The Japanese never lost their cultural identity when introducing Western science and
technology, because they introduced only the practical products of Western science and
technology, never its epistemology or worldviews.”
For many pupils worldwide, conventional school science seems highly disconnected from
practical ends. “Science learned in schools is learned as science in school, not as science on the
farm or in the health clinic or garage” (Medvitz, 1985, p. 15). This criticism is addressed by
cross-cultural science instruction that promotes parallel, simultaneous, dependent, or secured
collateral learning, which may be achieved through enculturation, “anthropological”
instruction/learning, or autonomous acculturation. These cultural processes rely on the
effectiveness of culture brokers, such as Luke’s science teacher, who make Western science
accessible to all pupils in their everyday worlds by assisting them to negotiate cultural borders
into school science. These pedagogical culture workers need to be brought into the research
programs of cross-cultural science education. They have much to offer.
In summary some relationships among cultural border crossing, collateral learning, and
implications for science teaching are summarised in Table 1. The anthropological research
conducted by Phelan et al. (1991) established four types of border crossings that pupils
experience when attending school (column 1 in Table 1). Costa (1995) confirmed these results
specifically for science pupils and suggested at least four categories of pupils (column 2). The
next two columns depict a cultural perspective on science education associated Costa’s
categories by identifying three cultural processes endemic to meaningful and non-coercive
learning (column 3) and by identifying three concomitant roles for science teachers to play
(column 4). Collateral learning theory postulates a spectrum of cognitive experiences (parallel,
simultaneous, dependent, and secured collateral learning) that helps explain cultural border
crossings (column 5).
Table 1 fits here.
Curriculum and Assessment
Culture-broker science teachers will need a cross-cultural curriculum, a curriculum
sensitive to the cultural identity of pupils (Jegede et al., 1996; Ogunniyi, 1988) and characterised
by agendas 7, 8 and 9 in Pomeroy’s (1994) review of multicultural and cross-cultural science
education. Instead of bringing pupils into Western science and insisting they assume a scientist’s
perspective on nature and technology (the conventional enculturation or assimilation into
science), a cross-cultural science curriculum appropriates knowledge, skills, and values from
Western science and places them into a perspective that has scope and force (relevance) for
pupils, that is, science for all. For instance, a unit of study or lesson could be introduced by
recognizing a community’s Indigenous knowledge or worldview in a way that creates a need to
know Western science (Pomeroy’s 7th agenda).
Alternatively, a unit of study or lesson might include Indigenous content along with
Western science content to explore certain phenomena in depth (Pomeroy’s 8th agenda). For
example, First Nations traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) can be combined with various
fields of Western science (ecology, botany, biology, medicine, and horticulture, to name a few)
to give pupils an enriched understanding of nature in line with sustainable development
(Corsiglia and Snively, 1995). Snively (1995) outlines a five-step process for producing a TEK
unit in cross-cultural science teaching. For Western pupils who fit Costa’s (1995) categories of
Other Smart Kids and “I Don’t Know” Students, Aikenhead (1996) provided details for critically
analyzing both the students’ Indigenous commonsense knowledge and the canonical content of
Western science. Curriculum topics included mixtures, concentration, the logic of inference, and
the manipulation of scientific data.
Exemplifying Pomeroy’s 9th agenda, Aikenhead (1997b), Cajete (1994), Kawagley
(1995), MacIvor (1995), and Nelson-Barber and Esterin (1995) proposed for First Nations
pupils, and Jegede (1997) proposed for African pupils, cross-cultural STS curricula that
combined Indigenous commonsense knowledge, Indigenous and Western technology, and
Indigenous and Western knowledge of nature (science). Their “multiscience” approaches
(Ogawa, 1995) included a reflection on the epistemology and ontological assumptions of
Indigenous and Western science knowledge systems. These types of curriculum proposals should
help teachers create an appropriate ecocultural paradigm for instruction. A TEK Western science
curriculum could also be developed along these lines, as described by Corsiglia and Snively
(1995). Curriculum development in cross-cultural science education is only in its infancy stage.
Consequently, of the examples that exist, all come from local initiatives only. For example,
Circles & Lines, is a grade 7 to 9 science curriculum for First Nations pupils in Ontario, Canada
(Ahkwesahsne Mohawk Board of Education, 1994; Henderson, 1996).
The assessment of pupil achievement within the cross-cultural science curricula
mentioned above has been mapped out by Nelson-Barber and colleagues (1996). They offer
guidance and specific recommendations for developing a culturally responsive assessment
system, beginning with “treat linguistic and cultural diversity as strengths” (p. 8). An example
from the Navajo Nation demonstrated the fruitfulness of “portfolio assessment.” Portfolios were
shown to promote pupil autonomy and reflected the context of learning, not just the process and
product of learning.
Several years back, it would have been difficult if not impossible to dwell so much on the
cultural aspects of science education as we have done in this article. Many who perhaps claim to
be gate keepers of Western science would have rationalised their objection with arguments
ranging from the rationality and objectivity of science (the so-called marked differences between
the realm of science and the realm of culture) to the universality of science (a controversial issue
in itself; Stanley and Brickhouse, 1995). Contemporary changes in science education, however,
have given high priority to the goal “science for all,” for reasons which include equity, equality,
and economic, political, and cultural realities of the modern world (UNESCO, 1994). For
example, we live in a world of globalization which requires the demystification of science and
the elimination of science’s exclusive preserve as a place for an elite select few (Fensham,
1992). The multicultural realities of many of the world's classrooms dictate that if any nation
ignores the development of a science-for-all curriculum, it does so at its own peril (KEDI, 1997).
Whether in Africa, the South Pacific, Asia, and South America where Indigenous pupils
form part of the predominant culture, or in other parts of the world such as Canada, the USA,
Australia, and Europe, where the minority Indigenous populations are made to function within
the dominant Western culture, science education is neither culturally appropriate nor culturally
inclusive (Jegede et al., 1996). Even for pupils who come from the dominant Western culture,
studying science can pose major cultural problems (Aikenhead, 1996; Costa, 1995). Worldwide,
pupils are reacting to inappropriate and exclusive school science by voting with their feet. The
exodus from science classes stares science teachers in their face everyday (KEDI, 1997).
It is evident from the literature that pupils experience at least two types of culture when
they study science in a formal Western type educational setting: the culture of school science and
the culture of their life-world. To make meaning out of their experiences in science classrooms,
pupils need to negotiate a cultural transition from their life-world into the world of school
science. The ease or difficulty with which pupils make the transition (that is, the ease or
difficulty with which they cross cultural borders) will determine their understanding of the
subject. The absence of psychological pain leads to a smooth border crossing. At the opposite
extreme, the experience of unbearable psychological pain necessitates avoidance and leads to an
impossible border crossing.
As emphasised throughout this article, cultural border crossing relates to pupils from both
Indigenous and Western cultures. Life-world cultural knowledge (Shutz and Luckmann, 1973)
acts as reliable prior information and as a framework through which further learning takes place.
Life-world cultural knowledge affects the ease of cultural border crossing. When science culture
is in harmony with a learner’s life-world knowledge, learning science concepts reinforces the
pupils’ worldview suppositions. This, in turn, leads to enculturation (Contreras and Lee, 1990).
Even for the pupils who cross cultural borders smoothly into science, however, certain factors
(such as a lack of motivation, lack of interest, ineffective instructional strategies, inability to
relate what is learned to the world of work) might make border crossing problematic and at odds
with school science, as Champagne, Klopfer, and Anderson (1980) found in their study of pupils
in Western societies.
Pupils in non-Western societies confront complications in addition to the factors which
engender low interest in Western societies. At home, non-Western pupils function within a life-
world knowledge system diametrically opposed to the knowledge, skills, attitudes, values,
language, etc., taught in school science — content that bears characteristics of a Western
orientation (Rashed, 1997). The eco-cultural environment of non-Western learners (Jegede,
1989, 1995) determines their social and cultural imprints of how knowledge is acquired and how
it is used. At school, the science concepts taught as symbolic knowledge (Shutz and Luckmann,
1973) can become a source of “cultural violence” (the explicit form of Bourdieu's [1992]
“symbolic violence,”) and non-empowerment (O’Loughlin, 1992), resulting in serious conflict
between what pupils bring into the science classroom and what they are expected to take away
from it. As a result, a large majority of pupils in non-Western societies cannot cross cultural
borders smoothly into school science, and therefore, they do not learn science in the meaningful
way expected of them. Instead they play some form of Fatima’s rules (Larson, 1995).
We recognise that some pupils (and they are in a very small minority) are able to
smoothly negotiate the transition from their non-Western culture to the culture of science.
According to Medvitz (1985), these pupils felt comfortable in each world but found themselves
thinking differently in each setting. In relation to our thesis of cultural border crossing and
collateral learning theory, where smooth and effortless transitions should result in a good fit
between one cultural idea and the other, one can still question the acceptability of what these
people experience as smooth cultural border crossings. It may well be that the attainment of
secured collateral learning is being stunted.
Science education must be culture-sensitive for it to serve the emerging global
community, the norm in the next millennium. Taylor and Cobern (1998) have proposed a new
perspective for science education reform called “critical enculturation” which takes a dynamic
view of culture, involves a dialectical view of the process of cultural adaptation, and which must
recognise the need for reciprocal accommodation of the beliefs, values and practices of modern
science and the host culture. It is only through this process of mutual respect of cultures within a
multicultural environment that education for scientific culture can flourish. In this article, we
have provided a modest start towards identifying the teaching and learning of science from this
new perspective, in which learners attempt to transcend the borders of the culture of science and
the culture of the learner’s environment. Curriculum and instruction must make science more
accessible to all pupils, no matter the differences with their immediate culture. Indeed, these
differences as demonstrated in this article could be harnessed to provide rich, robust and holistic
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Table 1. An Overview of a Cultural Approach to Science Education
Border Crossings
Student Categories
Cultural Processes
of Instruction or
(Alternatives to
Assimilation or
Playing Fatima’s
Role of Teacher
Potential Scientists
coaching apprentices
none, parallel, or
Other Smart Kids
travel agent
culture broker
simultaneous, or
“I Don’t Know”
tour guide
culture broker
dependent or
tour guide
culture broker
possibly dependent
if at all
... Through in-service training, STEM teachers would gain experience of how to effectively use science activities that do not conflict with students' beliefs, or emphasize activities that attend to those beliefs but provide bridges between them and scientific content. Some of the students' scientific preconceptions which they bring to the classroom can be perfectly logical, and therefore, any effort to modify the preconception will be ineffective (Jegede & Aikenhead, 1999). ...
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As challenging as it may appears, science students need to be taught ethics. They need to be imparted right from secondary school with the skills on how to conduct their future professional lives in STEM fields in order to morally confront emerging ethical challenges of the 21st century. Reasons for this new perspective are fast becoming glaring due to an increasing interlink of ethical issues between science and modern society. This paper therefore discusses the meaning of ethics, the need for and arguments against the teaching of ethics in STEM classrooms at secondary school level. It also highlighted some strategies of how to go about teaching ethics at secondary school level. Among others, the paper suggested that more empirical evidences are needed on whether integration of ethics in STEM classroom is desirable or not.
... I propose that the enactment of inclusive practices involves a process of translanguaging whereby the teachers need to seek out available multilingual and multimodal resources and make strategic choices among these resources in order to bring inclusive teaching practices into the EMI classrooms. Through engaging in translanguaging, it can allow teachers to help students to transcend from their everyday life culture into the cultures of science and mathematics (Aikenhead 1996;Cobern & Aikenhead, 1998;Jegede & Aikenhead, 1999). Such a process of translanguaging also involves teachers adopt pluralistic attitudes in order to embrace resources that are available in the classroom to make the discipline-specific knowledge accessible to all students and honour the students' diverse multilingual and multicultural backgrounds and communicative resources (Tai and Li Wei, 2020, 2021a, 2021b, 2021c. ...
In English-medium instruction (EMI), English-as-a-second-language students will learn all/some subjects through English. Although there are a considerable number of studies which explore classroom interaction in Hong Kong (HK) secondary EMI schools, few studies have investigated EMI lessons which involve South Asian ethnic minorised students. These students share different linguistic and cultural backgrounds and they may not share a common first language with the teacher and other classmates. This study conducts a multimodal conversation analysis of science and mathematics lessons at a HK EMI secondary school, triangulated with interview data, in order to explore how the EMI teacher mobilises various resources to make discipline-specific knowledge accessible and cater for the different needs of all students in the classroom. This study argues that the process of enacting inclusive practices is a process of translanguaging which requires the EMI teacher to mobilise various available multilingual and semiotic resources and draw on what students know collectively for transcending cultural boundaries from the students’ everyday culture to cultures of school science and mathematics.
... I propose that the enactment of inclusive practices involves a process of translanguaging whereby the teachers need to seek out available multilingual and multimodal resources and make strategic choices among these resources in order to bring inclusive teaching practices into the EMI classrooms. Through engaging in translanguaging, it can allow teachers to help students to transcend from their everyday life culture into the cultures of science and mathematics (Aikenhead 1996;Cobern & Aikenhead, 1998;Jegede & Aikenhead, 1999). Such a process of translanguaging also involves teachers adopt pluralistic attitudes in order to embrace resources that are available in the classroom to make the discipline-specific knowledge accessible to all students and honour the students' diverse multilingual and multicultural backgrounds and communicative resources (Tai and Li Wei, 2020, 2021a, 2021b, 2021c. ...
Full-text available
In English-medium instruction (EMI), English-as-a-second-language students will learn all/some subjects through English. Although there are a considerable number of studies which explore classroom interaction in Hong Kong (HK) secondary EMI schools, few studies have investigated EMI lessons which involve South Asian ethnic minorised students. These students share different linguistic and cultural backgrounds and they may not share a common first language with the teacher and other classmates. This study conducts a multimodal conversation analysis of science and mathematics lessons at a HK EMI secondary school, triangulated with interview data, in order to explore how the EMI teacher mobilises various resources to make discipline-specific knowledge accessible and cater for the different needs of all students in the classroom. This study argues that the process of enacting inclusive practices is a process of translanguaging which requires the EMI teacher to mobilise various available multilingual and semiotic resources and draw on what students know collectively for transcending cultural boundaries from the students’ everyday culture to cultures of school science and mathematics.
... Navigating between different knowledge systems is a daily reality for many children in Sub-Saharan Africa. Jegede andAikenhead (1999, referring to Giroux, 1992) have coined the term cultural border crossing to describe students' efforts to bridge the abovementioned gap between their home cultures and what is taught in school. For some students, the epistemological and ontological threshold might indeed run between home and school, as envisaged in an earlier version of the South African science curriculum that assumes "that learners … think in terms of more than one world-view. ...
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The article aims to contribute to the ongoing debate on quality education with regard to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4. The authors suggest that heterogeneity and plurality of epistemologies in Sub-Saharan African classrooms are not drawbacks, but important resources with regard to both student learning and sustainable development. The majority of Sub-Saharan African children grow up navigating between indigenous and so-called Western knowledge systems, which may be one reason for their low performances in Westernised education systems. Arguing that quality education needs to be responsive to students' epistemically diverse life realities, the authors introduce dialogue between epistemologies as an approach to integrating indigenous knowledge systems (IKS) with Western knowledge in education. This approach allows for critical and constructive engagement of knowledges. The article's theoretical proposals are discussed by means of a case using qualitative data from a participatory action research (PAR) study that explored the integration of IKS in science education in Makhanda, South Africa. Learning to employ, and combine, knowledges is proposed as an essential aspect of quality and sustainable education in the 21st century.
... Här har man även behandlat elevers, särskilt minoritetsgruppers, svårigheter att närma sig naturvetenskapen såsom subkultur. Jegede & Aikenhead (1999) menar att undervisningen måste syfta till att överskrida gränserna mellan subkulturer, utan att elevernas egna föreställningar ses som mindre värda. Lemke (1990) lyfter vikten av att "tala vetenskap" på ett sätt som inte främmandegör eleven. ...
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This study concerns text, language, and learning in a linguistically heterogeneous upper secondary class in Sweden where students aged 16 to 17 are studying biology. One starting point for the dissertation is the importance of language in all school subjects. Another premise is that language as a resource for learning and communication is a high challenge for students who are studying through their second language. The perspectives adopted in the dissertation are those of language and second-language didactics, and of multimodality. The dissertation is based on field notes, audio recordings, collected texts, and interviews. A major question is the extent to which the students are given the potential for coherent meaning making. Another crucial question is how different student groups succeed in the subject of biology, and their potential to move towards the use of more academic language. In the foreground of the study are text analyses in which the notions of intertextuality and recontextualization are an important foundation for understanding, and where textbook, teaching, and student texts are related to each other. The study shows, among other things, the importance of visualization of taxonomic relations, through which connections within a subject can be made explicit. The results also hint at the potential of different visual representations to bridge the gap between everyday and more scientific modes of expression. Mobility between and within discourses can thus be viewed as multimodal. The dissertation also uses the notion of text activities, which can be compared to the Sydney School`s concept of genre. The findings reveal relatively large differences between different chapters in the biology textbook, with regard to text activities, linguistic features, and the degree of multimodality. Differences thus arise in the degree to which these texts are a challenge to the reader. The findings show, moreover, that different images can be regarded as visual text activities and can thus be analysed on the level of text structure. The discrepancy between different student groups in the class is relatively large. The second-language students rarely achieve high grade levels. Lower grades, in turn, mean that standards are set relatively low for written work, and there is also strong teacher mediation at this level. Higher grade levels, on the other hand, require more advanced text activities and more independent reflexive writing and reading. The latter indicates a need for explicit metadiscursive discussions in the classroom. The results also suggest a need for broader language and text production, especially for second-language students.
One frequently touted approach to addressing environmental sustainability issues in science education is to reconsider the disciplinary structure of science under the pretext of multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary curricula. The basic assumption is that if learners in school settings engage in authentic and meaningful interdisciplinary environmental sustainability and science curriculum, then they will learn through this engagement how to address the ecological crises in the Anthropocene. While laudable, implementing these progressive curriculum encounters are challenging due to the transdisciplinary nature of the environmental challenges being addressed, and the epistemological and sociological nature of science disciplines. This chapter will re-examine the disciplinary nature of science as constituted by various subjects, looking particularly at curricular applications presenting reconsiderations for environmental sustainability within the science curriculum.
This study was conducted in a lighthouse school with a long and successful history of restructuring. In this article we describe our (surprising) impressions of shadowing Jake, one of the highest achieving students in the school. We present a researcher's account of Jake's classroom experience over the first four periods of a single day and an analysis of what happened in terms of the idea of studenting. We employ an actor-oriented view of studenting, comprising four aspects—pacing, attending, conforming, and selecting. We contrast this with a structure-oriented view of studenting and draw parallels with the notions of students-as-participants and students-as-benefciaries in school reform. Finally, we discuss the problems and possibilities of engaging and involving students in the process of reform.
Colonial education in Canada has been underpinned by Eurocentric ideologies of European ethno-superiority born out of the nineteenth century belief in the moral and cultural superiority of Europe. Settler colonialism imposed colonial theories of knowledge that privileged and superiorized Eurocentric knowledges and denied, denigrated and invalidated Indigenous knowledges and epistemologies such that to this day, Eurocentric educational ideology has mediated and continues to inform what is considered formal education in Canada. This chapter traces the history of colonial education in Canada, its colonizing logics including the colonization of Indigenous knowledge forms and ways of knowing and pedagogies. It identifies instruments of the violence of colonial education and how these structures continue to sustain settler and other forms of colonial education and its self-proclaimed superiority over Indigenous knowledges and epistemologies.
The integration of Indigenous perspectives into schools has been viewed as a positive influence for all learners and specifically works to make education and schooling more relevant to Indigenous, Black, Latinx, and other racialized students. Bringing Elders into schools and incorporating their cultural knowledges into the schooling experience ensures a more culturally relevant and equitable educational experience for Indigenous and other racialized learners. Indigenous Elders being cultural knowledge holders and custodians make the learning environment more welcoming and offer a more inclusive and enriching alternative to hegemonic Eurocentric schooling, allowing for the creation of decolonized social and academic learning spaces for racialized learners. The presence of Indigenous Elders in schools validates the Indigenous body and Indigenous epistemologies as sites of knowing and knowledge production.
Like all other forms of resistance to colonial domination and hegemony, the integration of Indigenous Elders and their cultural knowledges into schools is not without challenges. Integration does not take place on neutral ground as the school is a contested colonial landscape peppered with colonizing ideologies that are often hostile to Indigenous Elders. Colonial formations and logics are fundamentally opposed to decolonizing approaches intrinsic to Indigenous resurgence and decolonization ideologies and practices, including efforts to Indigenize schools and schooling. The incorporation of Indigenous knowledges in schools requires de-centering colonial foundations of education and theories of knowledge production, power and privilege embedded in contemporary educational structures, as well as grappling with questions of complicity and Eurocentric seduction. Despite these challenges, Indigenous communities continue to challenge and resist colonial education and to insist on the right of their children to be educated in their own languages and within their own cultures.
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In the introduction to this book, a critical question was raised: Whose interests are being served by science education Of course, the very asking of this question foreshadows a common dimension to the types of insight one might expect from the ensuing chapters. The question is, indeed, a hallmark of a social constructivist perspective on the generation and legitimation of knowledge, whether by scientists or students of science; a perspective that foregrounds the cultural context within which knowledge is developed, legitimated and made use of.
This international and interdisciplinary collection presents and discusses the many issues and educational practices that are touched on by constructivism. Drawing on perspectives from a range of different fields (ethics, mathematics education, philosophy, social psychology, science education, social studies), this book invites us to reposition ourselves in relation to the major currents that have influenced education in this century, namely pragmatism, genetic epistemology, and social interactionism. The essays call for new reflection on the questions that are central to the project of education and that, in particular, involve the validity of knowledge and types of knowledge, the compartmentalization of school subjects, the mediating role of teachers, and, above all, the ends of education. In so doing, this book relaunches the discussion on constructivism's potential for the social empowerment of groups and individuals.
Global science education is a reality at the end of the 20th century - albeit an uneven reality - because of tremendous technological and economic pressures. Unfortunately, this reality is rarely examined in the light of what interests the everyday lives of ordinary people rather than the lives of political and economic elites. The purpose of this book is to offer insightful and thought-provoking commentary on both realities. The tacit question throughout the book is `Whose interests are being served by current science education practices and policies?' The various chapters offer critical analysis from the perspectives of culture, economics, epistemology, equity, gender, language, and religion in an effort to promote a reflective science education that takes place within, rather than taking over, the important cultural lives of people. The target audience for the book includes graduate students in education, science education and education policy professors, policy and government officials involved with education.
This article focuses on (a) theoretical underpinnings of social constructivism and multicultural education and (b) aspects of social constructivism that can provide frameworks for research in multicultural science education. According to the author, multicultural science education is "a field of inquiry with constructs, methodologies, and processes aimed at providing equitable opportunities for all students to learn quality science." Multicultural science education research continues to be influenced by class, culture, disability, ethnicity, gender, and different lifestyles; however, another appropriate epistemology for this area of research is social constructivism. The essence of social constructivism and its implications for multicultural science education research includes an understanding of whatever realities might be constructed by individuals from various cultural groups and how these realities can be reconstituted, if necessary, to include a scientific reality. Hence, multicultural science education should be a field of study in which many science education researchers are generating new knowledge. The author strives to persuade other researchers to expand their research and teaching efforts into multicultural science education, a blending of social constructivism with multicultural science education. This blending is illustrated in the final section of this article.