Encyclopedia of Science Education

Living Edition
| Editors: Richard Gunstone

Indigenous and Minority Teacher Education

  • Dawn SutherlandEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-6165-0_222-3


Main Text

Indigenous and minority science teacher preparation programs target specific cultural populations who are underrepresented in the mainstream science teacher population. There are a variety of approaches to indigenous and minority science teacher education: programs that target accessibility, those that focus on cross-cultural pedagogy, and programs that can be characterized as transformative.

Access-Oriented Science Teacher Education

Accessibility-focused science teacher education programs provide supports to prospective indigenous and minority education students. Access programs recognize that there is not an even playing field when trying to gain entry into and remain in post-secondary education programs and try to rectify the underrepresentation of indigenous and minority science teachers by providing a variety of supports. Examples of these programs are the University of Manitoba Access Program (targets minority and indigenous students for several degree programs including primary and secondary teacher education), the Aboriginal Teacher Education Programs at Queen’s University, Kingston, University of Alberta, and the University of Saskatchewan. Financial support is often a part of access-oriented programs, but academic and social supports are viewed as important factors for success. Some examples of social supports in these programs are personal counseling to deal with home sickness and family issues, help with the transition to an urban center, assistance with locating day cares or other family resources, and help connecting to cultural resources in an urban setting (such as elders, peers, and cultural programming). Academic supports may also be a part of the access-oriented science teacher preparation programs. Academic supports could include tutoring, upgrading, and study skills development. In access-oriented programs, indigenous and minority students attend classes in the mainstream science teacher education program. In other words they are external to the actual education program and provide supports to students from the outside. The programs have been very successful in Canada in increasing the representation of indigenous and minority teachers in mainstream schools, but primarily at the primary level and rarely students graduate as science specialists.

Indigenous and Minority Science Teacher Education That Includes Culturally Relevant Approaches

There are some teacher education programs that are more culturally based. Usually these programs are separate from the mainstream but affiliated with a post-secondary institution. Some programs are community based which makes it easier to incorporate local knowledge and culture into all aspects of the teacher education program. Examples of these programs are the Bachelor of Teaching (Anangu Education) at the University of South Australia and the Northern Teacher Education Program (NORTEP) based out of the University of Saskatchewan. However, the process by which cultural knowledge and Western science are incorporated into teacher preparation varies. Some programs focus on incorporating cultural into instruction, others on developing teachers as border crossers to help students navigate their worldviews and the views of science, and still other programs embed indigenous language into science instruction.

Some examples of science teacher preparation programs that incorporate culture into instruction are the Rekindling Traditions project (http://www.usask.ca/education/ccstu/welcome.html) and Malama I Ka ‘Aina (http://malama.hawaii.edu/Chinn). Both of these projects were for practicing science teachers. Rekindling Traditions was a project led by Glen Aikenhead, which sought to lead science teachers through a process in order to produce culturally relevant science units for use in science classrooms. Aikenhead used a border-crossing approach to science teacher education in this project. Aikenhead (2006) describes an effective culture-brokering teacher as one who “clearly identifies the border to be crossed, guides students back and forth across that border, and helps them negotiate cultural conflicts that may arise” (p. 235). Chinn’s project worked with science teachers to develop teaching approaches that emphasized the importance of place (Chinn 2007).

Transformative Science Teacher Education

Some educators have argued that cultural understandings are transmitted through language, and the only way to develop a transformative science program that incorporates indigenous understanding is if it is taught within the local language and culture. Pihama et al. (2002) developed a theoretical framework that positions Kura Kaupapa Māori as transformative praxis. Kaupapa MāoriTheory evolved out of transformative praxis in New Zealand education driven by the incorporation of Māori theoretical and methodological preferences and practices, i.e., being and acting Māori (Sexton 2011). McKinley (2005) has argued that “one of the main ways in which Indigenous knowledge systems can survive and thrive is through the establishment of programs taught through Indigenous languages so that a dialectal relationship between language and knowledge is established that continues to act as the wellspring” (p. 227). This fact emphasized a need for a cross-cultural approach to science teaching that includes language instruction and the transmission of indigenous knowledge in its language of origin. This has been the approach in Māori science education, a model with demonstrable successful outcomes. An example of this is Te Wānanga Takiura that offers a bachelor’s degree qualification in Kura Kaupapa Māori teaching. Te Wānanga is a tertiary education program that embraces a Māori worldview, values, and aspirations.



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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Research Office, Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Science EducationThe University of WinnipegWinnipegCanada