What knowledge is of most worth?

Year: 1994

Author: Jeans, Bruce

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

From one perspective school subject curricula have undergone significant change in the last twenty years. For example, the dominance of text over context has been so modified that now it is normal for curriculum education programs at all levels to emphasise context, even at the expense of text. Science education programs, for example, would be considered inadequate if they did not in some way address issues such as sustainable resource management, pollution and environmental degradation, gender effects on science learning, and the role and status of women in science.

From an epistemological perspective, however, very little has changed. The science text that we choose from is almost, if not entirely, Western or Cartesian science text. There is no doubt that Cartesian science is more effective than any other known science in its capacity to engender technology. It is probably also unmatched in its undesirable effects on the environment. Indigenous science/technology seem to have much less effect on the environment (but population size and density are confounding variables). There might be value, therefore, in considering some aspects of indigenous science/technology in the school and university curriculum. There has also been increasing recognition of the potential value of some indigenous folk remedies; there has been considerable investment in research and development of naturally occurring pharmaceuticals. This paper examines the case for including some aspects of non-Western science/technology in contemporary science education and where and how it might be incorporated.