Wilson, K. & Alloway, T. (2013). Expecting the unexpected: Engaging diverse young people in conversations around science. Australian Educational Researcher,40(2), 195-206. Netherlands: Springer Verlag. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1007/s13384-012-0084-6
The issue of limited engagement with science for young people from Indigenous, minority and lower socio-economic groups in Australia appears to have been sidelined from the mainstream debate around falling rates of engagement with science at the secondary schooling level. The ‘closing the gap’ mantra of education policy in Australia has seen an extraordinary focus on improving literacy and numeracy outcomes for Indigenous students, which, while valuable, has subsumed the importance of other key learning areas including science. Teachers are soon to be expected to incorporate Indigenous Perspectives within the science subjects of the new Australian National Curriculum yet appear to be under-resourced to meet this challenge to traditional approaches to science teaching. The purpose of this paper is to explore the pedagogy of a teacher working at an alternative secondary schooling site in North Queensland Australia who volunteered to modify his teaching of science to explicitly incorporate Indigenous Perspectives. The qualitative data collected through classroom observation and teacher interviews demonstrates the complex and multi-faceted nature of the science education experience when traditional pedagogical boundaries are dismantled to allow for a drawing upon of the lived experiences of diverse young people. The teacher’s ability to embrace this broader vision of science is linked to the inclusive culture of the alternative school environment that is brought into being through a ‘common ground’ philosophy of mutual respect and democratic relations.
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