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Educational Research for Social Change

versão On-line ISSN 2221-4070


SEEHAWER, Maren. South African science teachers' strategies for integrating indigenous and Western knowledges in their classes: Practical lessons in decolonisation. Educ. res. soc. change [online]. 2018, vol.7, n.spe, pp.91-110. ISSN 2221-4070.

Framed within the broader discourse on decolonising African education, this article aims to contribute to the project of integrating indigenous and Western knowledges in southern African education. Following a participatory action research (PAR) cycle, a team of five South African science teachers and one German researcher explored whether and how indigenous knowledges (IK) could be integrated into the teachers' regular classes. The article focuses on the first two phases of the PAR cycle and discusses how challenges impeding knowledge integration were solved and how science lessons that integrated aspects of Western and indigenous knowledges were planned. While the South African science curriculum explicitly invites knowledge integration, it hardly contains any IK and there are no generally available teaching materials. Moreover, some of the participating teachers did not have IK. Yet, integration was possible, for example, through using the learners' communities as resources, a strategy that worked well in both primary and secondary grades. The article suggests that the very practice-oriented research process was also a process of intellectual empowerment and decolonisation. Calling on the agency of teachers, parents, community elders, traditional healers, and academics, the article argues for a bottom-up approach to knowledge integration and to decolonising education.

Palavras-chave : Bottom-up approaches; decolonisation; indigenous knowledges; integration of knowledge systems; participatory action research; science education; South Africa; Sub-Saharan Africa.

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