Learner-centered Science Education
2008 - 292 pages
This book arises from the author’s experience of the South African science curriculum development and teaching since 1994, exploring definitions of science and approaches to science education appropriate to a newly liberated developing country. Each of the 50 chapters is borne out of Cliff Malcolm’s close relationships with communities in SA where he obtained deep insights into their attitudes to science teaching and learning, providing him with an empirical basis to challenge tertiary institutions to transform their curriculum offerings to embrace the culture and world views of African students. The author makes a compelling case for the evolution of relevant science teaching and learning that provide ‘capital’ for indigenous knowledges. The book has relevance also to first world countries, because the social and educational problems facing South Africa, though starker here, are present in all countries.
The book addresses, among others, the nature of scientific knowledge and knowledge production; how scientific knowledge can be accessed and represented; what counts as legitimate scientific knowledge in the South African context of colonization, liberation, inequity and African belief systems. The book extends the debates on “African” Science, and offers ways of talking and writing about science that reframe it, acknowledging problematics and pluralism, offering ways of bringing Western and African thought together.
Using a richly descriptive novelistic style, the author sketches vivid portraits of his research sites, participants and experiences. His vignettes are embedded in deep theoretical insights, lending gravity to the development discourse in science education, providing a coherent language for the transformational agendas of science educators committed to the project of social justice through a relevant science.
Each chapter is a riveting story arising from Cliff’s personal everyday life in South Africa from which he gently, skilfully, and comprehensively lays out highly significant issues and practices concerning learner-centred science teaching that might otherwise seem problematic to classroom teachers. Clarity and inspiration ensue. This scholarly book engages our personal reflection on, and commitment to, classroom practice for the betterment of all students, especially those who find themselves marginalized from mainstream success.
Glen Aikenhead, University of Saskatchewan, Canada