Using indigenous students' cultural knowledge more productively in mathematics and science classrooms

Year: 2012

Author: Chigeza, Philemon, Whitehouse, Hilary

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


There is widespread agreement that Indigenous students' cultural knowledge is desirably incorporated into curriculum and pedagogical practice. Our classroom research showed Indigenous learners can use the cognitive tools of their cultural community to engage with school mathematics and science. We argue that for these Indigenous students to develop deep knowledge of school mathematics and science concepts there need to be strong pedagogical and curriculum connections between conceptual and inquiry science knowledge and Indigenous students' cultural resources: cultural disposition, community knowledge and cultural capital. We use the term 'culture' to refer to an individual's habit of mind; the development of a whole society; or the whole way of life of a group of people (Rojek, 2007). Pre-service teachers do not only need to develop the key concepts, skills and strategies that underpin school mathematics and science, they also need to desirably develop a working knowledge how Indigenous cultural knowledge can be productively deployed in mathematics and science classrooms. In this presentation we consider how educators can position Indigenous students as agentic in negotiating their mathematical and scientific learning dispositions by formally acknowledging and accommodating different styles of communicating and representing knowledge. A key purpose of the presentation is to emphasise the socially negotiated and embedded nature of meaning-making in mathematics and science education and how this can be made more apparent in pre-service teacher education.