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International Review of Education

, Volume 53, Issue 5–6, pp 577–591 | Cite as

Integrating Western and Indigenous Knowledge Systems: The Basis for Effective Science Education in South Africa?

  • Lesley Le GrangeEmail author
Article

Abstract

This article responds to a call for rethinking the science that we teach to school learners in South Africa. Much of the debate on the nature of science and science learning is reflected in a body of literature which analyses the tensions between disparate perspectives on science education. Post-colonialists, feminists, multiculturalists, sociologists of scientific knowledge and those who refer to themselves as indigenous researchers argue that science is not universal but locally and culturally produced. Universalists on the other hand, argue that modern Western science is superior to indigenous perspectives on the natural world because of the former’s advanced predictive and explanatory powers. The fact that indigenous knowledge has been included in South Africa’s recently developed National Curriculum Statements invites a fresh look at the kind of science that is taught to South African school learners. In this article the author argues for a (dis)position that moves the debate beyond the binary of Western science/indigenous knowledge. Ways in which Western science and indigenous knowledge might be integrated are explored.

Keywords

Science Classroom Indigenous Knowledge Travel Agent Western Science Tour Guide 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Résumé

INTÉGRER LES SYSTÈMES OCCIDENTAUX ET INDIGÈNES DU SAVOIR : LE FONDEMENT D’UN ENSEIGNEMENT EFFICACE DES SCIENCES EN AFRIQUE DU SUD ? - Cet article rÉpond à un appel pour repenser l’enseignement des sciences que nous dÉlivrons aux Écoliers en Afrique du Sud. Une grande partie de la discussion sur la nature des sciences et de l’Étude des sciences se voit reflÉtÉe dans un corpus littÉraire analysant les tensions subsistant entre des visions divergentes de l’enseignement des sciences. Post-colonialistes, fÉministes, multiculturalistes, sociologues du savoir scientifique et ceux qui se dÉfinissent comme des chercheurs indigÈnes soutiennent que les sciences ne sont pas universelles mais localement et culturellement produites. Les Universalistes d’autre part soutiennent que les sciences occidentales modernes sont supÉrieures aux visions indigÈnes du monde de la nature, ces derniÈres mettant en avant des pouvoirs de prÉdiction et d’explication. Le fait que le savoir indigÈne ait ÉtÉ inclus dans les Rapports sur les Programmes d’Études Nationaux rÉcemment dÉveloppÉs en Afrique du Sud invite à poser un regard neuf sur le genre de sciences enseignÉes aux Écoliers sud-africains. Dans cet article, l’auteur plaide pour une (dis)position dÉplaçant la discussion au delà de l’alternative science occidentale/savoir indigÈne. On examine des possibilitÉs d’intÉgration de la science occidentale et du savoir indigÈne.

Zusammenfassung

DIE VEREINBARKEIT WESTLICHER UND INDIGENER WISSENSSYSTEME: BASIS FÜR EINE ERFOLGREICHE WISSENSCHAFTLICHE BILDUNG IN SÜDAFRIKA? – Dieser Artikel ist eine Antwort auf den Aufruf zum Nachdenken Über die Art der Wissenschaft, die wir SchÜlern in SÜdafrika beibringen. Debatten Über die Natur der Wissenschaft und des wissenschaftlichen Lernens finden größtenteils im Spiegel einer Literatur statt, die die Spannungen zwischen unterschiedlichen Perspektiven wissenschaftlicher Bildung analysiert. Im Postkolonialismus, Feminismus, Multikulturalismus, in der Wissenssoziologie und in der indigenen Forschung wird die Auffassung vertreten, dass Wissenschaft nicht universal ist, sondern lokal hergestellt wird. Auf der anderen Seite steht die universalistische Position, derzufolge die moderne westliche Wissenschaft aufgrund ihrer fortgeschrittenen prädiktiven und explanatorischen Kraft indigenen Sichtweisen der natÜrlichen Welt Überlegen sei. Die Tatsache, dass indigenes Wissen in die kÜrzlich entwickelten National Curriculum Statements einbezogen wurde, lädt dazu ein, die Wissenschaftsvermittlung in sÜdafrikanischen Schulen mit neuen Augen zu betrachten. Der Artikel tritt fÜr eine Weiterbewegung der Debatte Über die Zweiteilung westliche Wissenschaft/indigenes Wissen hinaus ein und erforscht neue Wege der Vereinbarkeit von westlicher Wissenschaft und indigenem Wissen.

Resumen

LA INTEGRACIÓN DEL SISTEMA DE CONOCIMIENTO OCCIDENTAL CON EL DE LA POBLACIÓN AUTÓCTONA: ¿UNA NUEVA BASE PARA LA EDUCACIÓN EN CIENCIAS EN SUDÁFRICA? - Este artículo es la respuesta a una llamada a reconsiderar las ciencias que enseñamos a los alumnos en SudÁfrica. Una gran parte de los debates sobre la naturaleza de las ciencias y el aprendizaje de las ciencias se ve reflejada en un cuerpo literario que analiza las tensiones existentes entre diferentes enfoques de lo que debe ser la educaciÓn en ciencias. Postcolonialistas, feministas, multiculturalistas y sociÓlogos del conocimiento científico y aquellos que se autodenominan ‹investigadores indígenas’ sostienen que la ciencia no es universal, sino que se produce a nivel local y cultural. Los universalistas, por otra parte, sostienen que la ciencia occidental moderna es superior a la visiÓn del mundo natural de la poblaciÓn autÓctona, a raíz del poder de explicaciÓn y predictivo de la primera. El hecho de que los conocimientos de la poblaciÓn originaria hayan sido incluidos en los Programas Nacionales de Estudio de SudÁfrica, desarrollados recientemente, ofrece la posibilidad de formarse una idea muy actual sobre la clase de ciencias que se estÁn enseñando a los alumnos sudafricanos. En este artículo, el autor aboga por una actitud que promueva el debate sobre la divisiÓn en ciencias occidentales y conocimientos indígenas, y explora los modos de integrar las ciencias occidentales con los conocimientos de la poblaciÓn autÓctona.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Curriculum Studies, Faculty of EducationStellenbosch UniversityMatielandSouth Africa

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