Towards a BC science curriculum inclusive of Indigenous Knowledge: challenges and recommendations for reform




Barcelos, Leanne

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In British Columbia, the Ministry of Education has established its support for Indigenous knowledge in the British Columbia’s school curriculum, and it also emphasizes the value of Aboriginal science in coexistence with Western science. However, within the science curriculum’s Prescribed Learning Outcomes (PLOs) it is underrepresented and is often taught as an ‘add on’ to the curriculum rather than an equal component of the curriculum, with equal value and worth to the rest of the science content. A genuine integration would include Indigenous knowledge as another valid worldview, and thus include a significant, rather than negligible, amount of representation in the curriculum. There are several obstacles impeding the genuine inclusion of Indigenous knowledge in science in British Columbia. Conceptions of science, teacher worldviews and beliefs, as well as the content and educational goals of the current science curriculum must be reformed before an authentic integration of Indigenous knowledge is possible. To assist in incorporating Indigenous knowledge into their epistemological framework, teachers need to recognize science “as it really is,” and not the impersonal, objective, and value-free subject it is portrayed in science education. Teachers’ worldviews and beliefs need to accommodate this curriculum reform, however it is paramount that they are given the support to do so. Educational goals and curriculum content need to support teachers in their implementation of Aboriginal science. Concrete PLO’s, resources and examples of Aboriginal science must be embedded within curriculum documents. In addition, pre-service and long-term professional development programs are essential in preparing teachers for this paradigm shift. With these changes to our education system, there is hope for an improved and authentic integration of Indigenous knowledge with Western science.



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