Integrating Western and Aboriginal Science: Toward a Bi-Cultural Pedagogy

Draft: February 29, 2000

Glen Aikenhead

College of Education

University of Saskatchewan

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, S7N 0X1


A paper presented to the annual meeting of the American Education Research Association, New Orleans, April 26, 2000. (Based in part on a forth coming chapter "Whose Scientific Knowledge? The Colonizer and the Colonized" in Science Education as/for Social Action, edited by Wolff-Michael Roth and Jacques Désautels, Teachers College Press.)

This paper addresses the issue of social power and privilege in science classrooms experienced by Aboriginal students (Native Americans). First, I present a rationale for a cross-cultural science education dedicated to all students making personal meaning out of their science classrooms. Then I describe a practical R&D project ("Cross-Cultural Science & Technology Units") that modestly illustrates this bi-cultural pedagogy for science classes in grades 6-11.

Toward a Bi-cultural Pedagogy

In 1982 Jacques Désautels explained how conventional science teaching, which claims to transmit value-free knowledge to students, subliminally inculcates scientific and societal values. Like the large wooden horse that concealed Greek soldiers at the siege of Troy, a science curriculum plays the role of a Trojan horse by concealing its values when attempting to enculturate students into Western science. These values often take the form of an ideology called "scientism" (Ogawa, 1998; Smolicz & Nunan, 1975; Ziman, 1984). Nadeau and Désautels (1984) identified five ways in which this ideology surfaces in school science. First, there is a naive realism, scientific knowledge is the reflection of things as they actually are. Second, there is blissful empiricism according to which all scientific knowledge derives directly and exclusively from observation of phenomena. Third, there is credulous experimentalism, which holds that experimentation makes possible conclusive verification of hypotheses. Fourth, people committed to blind idealism believe that scientists are completely disinterested and objective beings in their professional work. Finally, those subscribing to excessive rationalism hold that the logic of science alone brings us gradually nearer the truth. Science teachers tend to harbor a strong allegiance to values associated with scientism, for instance, science is: authoritarian, non-humanistic, objective, purely rational and empirical, universal, impersonal, socially sterile, and unencumbered by the vulgarity of human bias, dogma, judgments, or cultural values (Aikenhead, 1985; Brickhouse, 1990; Gallagher, 1991; Gaskell, 1992). Concealed in a Trojan-horse curriculum, scientism and other values penetrate students' minds when they learn to "think like a scientist" and take on other "habits of the mind;" goals emphasized in recent reform documents (AAAS, 1989; NRC, 1996). These science curricula attempt to enculturate all students into the value system of Western science.

Enculturation is not a problem for a small minority of students whose worldviews resonate with the scientific worldview conveyed most frequently in school science (Cobern & Aikenhead, 1998). These "Potential Scientists" want to think like scientists (Costa, 1995). They embrace enculturation into Western science (Aikenhead, 1996; Hawkins & Pea, 1987). For Potential Scientists there is no Trojan-horse curriculum.

For the vast majority of students, however, enculturation into Western science is experienced as an attempt at assimilation into a foreign culture. Because students generally reject assimilation into the culture of Western science (Aikenhead, 1996), they tend to become alienated from Western science in spite of it being a major global influence on their lives. Alienation reduces their effectiveness at "legitimate peripheral participation" in community matters related to science and technology (Roth & McGinn, 1997). As adults, alienated students will not possess the cultural capital to participate effectively in North American society.

The problem of alienation is more acute for Aboriginal students whose worldviews, identities, and mother tongues create an even wider cultural gap between themselves and school science (AAAS, 1977; Cajete, 1986, 1999; Snively, 1990; Sutherland, 1998). For centuries, attempts to assimilate Aboriginal peoples into Euro-Canadian society (i.e. colonization) have had disastrous consequences (Battiste, 1986; Buckley, 1992; Churchill, 1999; Deyhle & Swisher, 1997; MacIvor, 1995). Any further attempt to assimilate Aboriginal students into Western science continues this colonization and raises issues of social power and privilege in the science classroom.

A socio-cognitive model of teaching and learning was proposed by O'Loughlin (1992) to clarify social power and privilege in science classrooms. Drawing upon the social cognitive work of Delpit (1988), Lave (1988), and Wertsch (1991), O'Loughlin persuasively claimed:

To the extent that schooling negates the subjective, socioculturally constituted voices that students develop from their lived experience... and to the extent that teachers insist that dialogue can only occur on their terms, schooling becomes an instrument of power that serves to perpetuate the social class and racial inequities that are already inherent in society. (p. 816)

O'Loughlin's model for equity science education is an alternative to the conventional, uni-logical, assimilative, authoritative discourse that transmits scientific knowledge and values to students. O'Loughlin focused on "dialogical meaning making" in the context of social power, thereby sharing the transformative goals of critical pedagogy (Freire, 1970):

Dialogical meaning making occurs when the learner is influenced by the text, but is also allowed the space to play an active role in developing a personally constructed understanding of the author's or teacher's message through a process of dialogic interchange. (O'Loughlin, 1992; p. 813)

The discourse of instruction O'Loughlin proposed involves more than the conventional literacy for comprehension (reading the lines in science textbooks to infer comprehension, usually to pass exams and acquire credentials). His discourse of instruction is more than literacy for critical thinking (reading between the lines to infer hidden assumptions, alternatives, and changes of meaning). For O'Loughlin one learns "to participate in the culture of power, while simultaneously learning how to reflect critically on the power relations of which they are a part" (p. 807, italics in the original). His discourse of instruction is more like van der Plaat's (1995) reading between the lines of privileged discourse to infer what ontology has been culturally constructed by that discourse and to understand that ontology in terms of its relationship to one's own culturally determined ontology. This type of literacy is very much needed by many Aboriginal students (Cajete, 1999; MacIvor, 1995).

Although O'Loughlin's (1992) socio-cognitive model of meaning making addresses social power and privilege in the classroom, it does not explicitly treat meaning making from a cultural perspective. This, I argue, is a severe limitation of the model.

A cultural perspective on science education is founded on several assumptions listed but not fleshed out here: (1) Western science is a cultural entity itself, one of many subcultures of Euro-American society; (2) people live and coexist within many subcultures identified by, for example, language, ethnicity, gender, social class, occupation, religion and geographic location; (3) people move from one subculture to another, a process called "cultural border crossing;" (4) people's core cultural identities may be at odds with the culture of Western science to varying degrees; (5) science classrooms are subcultures of the school culture; (6) most students experience a change in culture when moving from their life-worlds into the world of school science; therefore, (7) learning science is a cross-cultural event for these students; (8) students are more successful if they receive help negotiating their cultural border crossings; and (9) this help can come from a teacher (a culture broker) who identifies the cultural borders to be crossed, who guides students back and forth across those borders, who gets students to make sense out of cultural conflicts that might arise, and who motivates students by drawing upon the impact Western science and technology have on the students' life-worlds (not upon the contribution Western science and technology have made to a mono-culture of progress determined by a privileged class). The assumptions posited here are described in detail in Aikenhead (1996, 1997), Aikenhead and Jegede (1999), and Jegede and Aikenhead (1999). These assumptions underlie a bi-cultural pedagogy.

A cultural approach to teaching and learning engages students in cultural negotiations (Stairs, 1993/94). Negotiation occurs in a context where learning science is experienced as "coming to knowing," a phrase borrowed from Aboriginal educators (Ermine, 1998; Peat 1994). Coming to knowing is reflected in participatory learning: "If the living, experiencing being is an intimate participant in the activities of the world to which it belongs, then knowledge is a mode of participation" (Dewey, 1916, p. 393). The world in which most Aboriginal students participate is not a world of Western science, but another world increasingly influenced by Western science and technology.

Coming to knowing engages Aboriginal students in their own cultural negotiations among several sciences found within their school science. Four such sciences were identified by Ogawa (1995). First, students reflect on their own understanding of the physical and biological world. Second, students come to know the Aboriginal commonsense understanding held by their community. Third, students may encounter ways of knowing of another culture, including other First Nations peoples. Fourth, students are introduced to the norms, beliefs, values and conventions of Western science -- the culture of Western science (Aikenhead, 1996). Negotiating among various sciences in school science is known as "multi-science education" (Ogawa, 1995). Bi-cultural pedagogy facilitates these negotiations. Coming to knowing is about developing cultural identity and self-esteem.

As mentioned above, a cultural approach to science education recognizes that learning Western science for most Aboriginal students is a cross-cultural event. Students move from their everyday cultures associated with home to the culture of Western science (Aikenhead, 1997; Phelan, Cao, & Davidson, 1991). These transitions, or border crossings (to use Giroux's [1992] metaphor), are smooth for "Potential Scientists," are manageable for "Other Smart Kids," but are most often hazardous or impossible for everyone else (Costa, 1995). Success at learning the knowledge of nature of another culture depends, in part, on how smoothly one crosses cultural borders. Too often students (Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal alike) are left to manage border crossings on their own (Phelan et al., 1991). Most students require assistance from a teacher, similar to a tourist in a foreign land requiring the help of a tour guide. In short, a science teacher needs to play the role of a culture broker (Aikenhead, 1997).

Such a culture broker understands that Western science has its own culture because scientists generally work within an identifiable set of cultural attributes: "an ordered system of meanings and symbols, in terms of which social interaction takes place" (a definition by cultural anthropologist Geertz, 1973, p. 5). More specifically, the scientific community generally has its own language, beliefs, values, conventions, expectations, and technology. These attributes define a culture (Aikenhead, 1996). For Western science, these attributes are identified as "Western" because of the fact that the culture of Western science evolved within Euro-American cultural settings (Pickering, 1992; Rashed, 1997). The culture of Western science today exists within many nations, wherever Western science takes place.

A culture-brokering science teacher makes border crossings explicit for Aboriginal students by acknowledging students' personal preconceptions and Aboriginal worldviews that have a purpose in, or connection to, students' everyday culture. A culture broker identifies the culture in which students' personal ideas are contextualized, and then introduces another cultural point of view, for instance the culture of Western science, in the context of Aboriginal knowledge. At the same time, a culture broker must let students know what culture he/she is talking in at any given moment (e.g. Aboriginal science or Western science), because as teachers talk they can unconsciously switch between cultures, much to the confusion of many students. (Some specific strategies to accomplish this are described elsewhere [Aikenhead, 1997, in press; Cajete, 1999; Jegede & Aikenhead, 1999].)

To facilitate students' border crossings, teachers and students both need to be flexible and playful, and to feel at ease in the less familiar culture (Lugones, 1987). This will be accomplished differently in different classrooms. As O'Loughlin (1992) argued, it has a lot to do with the social environment of the science classroom, the social interactions between a teacher and students, and the social interactions among students themselves. Thus, a teacher who engages in culture brokering should promote discourse (Driver, Asoko, Leach, Mortimer, & Scott, 1994) so students are provided with opportunities to engage in the following three activity types. First, students should have opportunities for talking within their own life-world cultural framework without sanctions for being "unscientific." Second, students should have opportunities for being immersed in either their everyday Aboriginal culture or the culture of Western science as students engage in some activity (e.g. problem solving or decision making in an authentic or simulated event). Finally, students should be consciously aware of which culture they are participating in at any given moment.

Effective culture brokers substantiate and build on the validity of students' personally and culturally constructed ways of knowing (Pomeroy, 1994). Sometimes bridges can be built in various ways between cultures (Cajete, 1999), other times ideas from one culture can be seen as fitting within the ideas from another culture. Whenever apparent conflict between cultures arises, it is dealt with openly and with respect. (Aikenhead and Jegede [1999] describe the resolution of this cultural conflict in terms of a psychological model called "collateral learning," described below.)

For Aboriginal students especially, it will be helpful if a culture broker addresses Western science's social, political, military, colonial, and economic roles in history. Smooth border crossings cannot occur if a student feels that he or she is associating with "the enemy" (Cobern, 1996). By acknowledging Western science's historical roles in the colonization of Aboriginals on Turtle Island (North America), a teacher can address Aboriginal students' conflicting feelings toward the culture of Western science, thus making a student feel more at ease with learning (appropriating) that subculture's content without accepting its values and ideologies. In short, a culture-brokering science teacher identifies the colonizer and the colonized, and teaches the science of each culture (Snively & Corsiglia, 2000). This is a key aspect of bi-cultural pedagogy.

Bi-Cultural Pedagogy as Praxis

What does bi-cultural pedagogy look like in a science classroom? We were not sure ourselves. Consequently we initiated an R&D project to explore the territory. A collaborative team of six science teachers from across northern Saskatchewan and myself as facilitator (plus technical personnel, Elders, and other people in the teacher's local community) are developing instructional strategies and units of study to support teachers wishing to become culture brokers in grade 6 to 11 science classrooms (Aikenhead, 2000).Two of the teachers are Aboriginal. All teachers have a personal interest in developing their bi-cultural pedagogy further.

Our work is based on recommendations found in the literature for teaching school science to Aboriginal students (Allen & Crawley, 1998; Cajete, 1986; Kawagley, 1995; MacIvor, 1995; Snively, 1995). For example, we consistently seek the wisdom of one Elder, although different Elders have helped the team at different times. One product of our R&D project will be six cross-cultural science and technology units (CCSTU). Funding came from a variety of sources and was sufficient to support the project for two calendar years (1999-2000). Teachers received a modicum of release time for research and writing (nine days in total) and for attending six two-day meetings. As the project evolved, the focus of each meeting changed from identifying themes to editing manuscripts to planning in-service workshops. Interestingly, progress was achieved only when the teachers interacted face to face, or when I interacted with them personally in their communities after school hours. Expect for following up on details, the technologies of e-mail, fax, and telephone were not effective communication tools.

A community's Aboriginal knowledge has a valid place in our bi-cultural pedagogy. Snively and Corsiglia (2000) have shown how traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) can be combined with various fields of Western science (e.g., ecology, botany, biology, medicine, or horticulture) to give students an enriched understanding of nature in line with sustainable development. Some students in the CCSTU project will discover that they already possess some Aboriginal knowledge that was taught at home, while others will learn it in their science course for the first time. Aboriginal knowledge is given voice in the classroom in the dialogic sense of voice described by O'Loughlin (1992) as involving both the speaker and the listener in mutual respect. Each of our units validates "the ways of knowing students bring to school by grounding the curriculum in their voices and lives" (p. 814). A dialogic voice means that a teacher learns from students and from people in the community. Teachers model for their students successful border crossing between their own life-world and the culture of the community. In this context, students' Aboriginal identity has a legitimate place in classroom instruction. Cultural negotiation can occur. Coming to knowing has a legitimate place. The discourse of power no longer resides with the teacher. Power is more evenly shared.


A CCSTU brings Western science into the student's world rather than insisting that students construct a worldview of a Western scientist. In other words, we try to avoid teaching science in an assimilative way. All the same, students are expected to see the world through the eyes of a Western scientist just as we would expect students to understand another person's point of view.

Although each unit integrates Western and Aboriginal sciences differently, the units share common patterns of integration. For instance, each unit deals with a theme significant to the community. These themes are suggested by the units' titles:

1. Snowshoes (in Michif or Cree: Asâmak)

2. Nature's Hidden Gifts (Cree: Iyiniw Maskikiy)

3. The Night Sky (Dëne -- S dialect: Tth'ën)

4. Survival in Our Land (Cree: Kipimâcihowininaw ôta Kitaskînahk)

5. Wild Rice (Algonquin or Cree: Mânomin)

6. Trapping (Dëne -- S dialect: tts'usi Thëlai)

The variety of local languages spoken across northern Saskatchewan reflects the diversity of cultures found in those communities. Teachers have not generally been successful when they have tried to use materials developed in other Aboriginal communities, materials such as those published by Native Americans in the U.S. (Aikenhead & Huntley, 1999). To be successful, materials must speak to the unique culture of the individual community.

Another common pattern of integration is an Aboriginal framework established at the beginning of each unit. A framework reflects local knowledge. In a later lesson, Western science and technology from the Saskatchewan science curriculum will be introduced to students as useful knowledge from another culture. The introductory Aboriginal content takes the form of practical action relevant to a community, for example, going on a snowshoe hike, finding indigenous plants that heal, listening to an Elder, interviewing people in the community, or assisting in a local wild rice harvest. An introductory framework seems to be most successful when each student feels a direct connection to Mother Earth. A physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual connection helps ensure respect for the community's Aboriginal knowledge and begins to nurture students' coming to knowing.

It is challenging, yet crucial, not to distort local knowledge by making it conform to Western epistemology endemic to school culture. Inadvertent assimilation will take place in a science classroom if the local knowledge is taken out of its epistemic context. Disrespect can occur, for instance, if the teacher ignores the unifying spirituality that pervades Aboriginal epistemology (Ermine, 1995). Spirituality, whether pre-contact Traditional, Roman Catholic, Anglican, or Fundamentalist Christian, has epistemic force for most Aboriginal students even though it is purposefully absent from science classrooms where an adherence to a Cartesian duality is the cultural convention. It is not the case that the community's spirituality is integrated into Western science in our units, but it is the case that the community's spirituality is given voice in the context of Aboriginal knowledge. Although content from both cultures is studied for the purpose of understanding it, students are not expected to believe or to personally adopt that content. The culture-brokering teacher engaged in bi-cultural pedagogy simply identifies spirituality in Aboriginal knowledge and identifies its absence in Western science.

Integration of Western and Aboriginal science occurs in the sense of Ogawa's (1995) multi-science classroom (described above). Conflicts are resolved in a number of ways through "collateral learning" (Aikenhead & Jegede, 1999). Collateral learning generally involves two or more conflicting schemata held simultaneously in long-term memory. Jegede (1995) recognized variations in the degree to which conflicting ideas interact with each other and the degree to which conflicts are resolved. He identified four types of collateral learning: parallel, simultaneous, dependent, and secured. These types of collateral learning are not separate categories but points along a spectrum depicting degrees of interaction and conflict resolution (Aikenhead & Jegede, 1999). The greatest degree of interaction is represented by secured collateral learning.

The Aboriginal introduction to a CCSTU constitutes a framework for the whole unit. Throughout the unit, students will return to this familiar framework as needed. The actual time to establish an Aboriginal framework could be as short as 15 minutes or as long as several days.

Another aspect of integration common to all the units deals with values. Both scientific and Aboriginal values are made explicit in our CCSTUs. Each lesson plan specifies either a scientific value (e.g. power and domination over nature) or an Aboriginal value (e.g. harmony with nature) to be conveyed by the lesson. In some cases where both cultures are compared within one lesson, both types of values are identified. Values are particularly salient in Aboriginal cultures (Cajete, 1999). The introduction to a CCSTU clarifies key values that Elders expect students to learn. This practice is then extended to the clarification of values that underlie Western science when scientific content is studied later in the CCSTU. Unlike a Trojan-horse curriculum, key scientific values become the topic of discussion where they can be expressed and critiqued. This tends to circumvent an indoctrination into Western values endemic to assimilative science teaching. Students can learn to identify vestiges of scientism in their textbooks (reading between the lines of privileged discourse; van der Plaat, 1995) and in the conversations of their everyday lives. As the ontology of the Western colonizer becomes more apparent (e.g. the mathematical idealization of the physical world), students are freer to appropriate Western knowledge and technique without embracing Western ways of valuing nature. (See Ogawa's [1996] four-eyed fish metaphor for a Japanese description of such appropriation, and Krugly-Smolska [1994] for other cultures.) This appropriation has been called "autonomous acculturation" (Aikenhead, 1997).

Each value system (Western scientific or Aboriginal) orients a student differently toward nature (Ermine, 1995). The motivation for developing knowledge about nature is fundamentally different in the two cultures. While Western science values revealing nature's mysteries for the purpose of gaining knowledge for the sake of knowledge and material growth, Aboriginal science strives for living with nature's mysteries for the purpose of survival (Aikenhead, 1997; Simonelli, 1994; Snively & Corsiglia, 2000). Students' social power and privilege in the classroom increase when students sense a genuine respect for their Aboriginal values (Cajete, 1999).

Having established an Aboriginal framework and having identified key values as contexts for integration, the next mode of integration in a CCSTU is a border crossing event into Western science, consciously switching values, language conventions, conceptualizations, assumptions about nature, and ways of knowing. As a culture broker, the teacher clearly identifies the border to be crossed, guides students across that border, and helps students negotiate cultural conflicts that might arise (Aikenhead, 1997). Each unit has a different place where border crossing first occurs.

Attributes of a CCSTU described above are illustrated by Wild Rice. To begin the unit, local "ricers" come into the class to connect students with the local culture. The ricers convey the value "the community's knowledge can be very useful and important." In the following lesson, the teacher follows this up with a systematic overview of the unit that reinforces ideas introduced by the ricers. Next the class studies the local stories that advise where one should plant wild rice. The class goes to a nearby potential site and plants some seeds. A personal connection to Mother Earth is achieved. The value conveyed here is "respect for traditional knowledge." Border crossing into Western science is initiated in a lesson that follows, called "The Habitat: Western Science Stories about Zizania Palustris." Biology content is introduced in accordance with the curriculum expectations for the grade being taught. The scientific values underlying these lessons are, for example, "a naming system should be universal (it should work anywhere on the planet)," "math can make observing more precise," "more observations increase our confidence in a result," and "efficiency improves production." The Western science content (e.g. concepts of habitat, niche, competition, pH, electro negativity, percent germination) enhances and enriches the local knowledge by broadening students' perspectives, while at the same time, not requiring students to replace their community's knowledge with scientific knowledge. The differing underlying values of the two knowledge systems suggest to students different assumptions about nature. The unit Wild Rice continues with a field trip to a nearby wild rice stand, followed by water analysis studies and lessons on the science and technology of harvesting and of industrial processing. A personal or virtual tour of a processing plant is included. The unit ends with a study of the nutritional value of foods in which students eat their investigations.

At any moment during any lesson within a CCSTU, students should be able to state which culture they are speaking in (Western science or Aboriginal or local common sense). For instance, students are expected to use the phrase "Zizania palustris" or "mânomin" or "wild rice," depending upon which one is appropriate to the context of a discussion. By convention, scientists say "Zizania palustris" when they speak Western science, and so should the students when they speak Western science. Bi-cultural pedagogy in a multi-science classroom makes this explicit. Some teachers use two different black boards -- one for Aboriginal science, another for Western science. One board is used to record ideas expressed in the discourse of the community's Aboriginal knowledge, while the other board is used to express the culture of Western science. By switching from one board to the other (cultural border crossing), students consciously switch language conventions and conceptualizations. It is up to the teacher to assess the quality of students' learning associated with each board, but both have a place in the assessment (discussed below). This bi-cultural pedagogy helps students gain access to Western science without losing sight of their cultural identity.

Another feature of integration often emerges when a teacher compares Aboriginal and Western science. Sometimes Western science can powerfully clarify one small aspect of Aboriginal science. For instance in the Snowshoes and Trapping units, the technologies are originally studied from historical and cultural perspectives of the local community. Then the class takes a closer, in-depth, Western scientific look at the pressure exerted by snowshoes on snow and by traps on animals. By understanding the scientific stories about force, pressure, and energy, students learn to predict more accurately the effects of variations in the technology. While the Western science concepts do not improve students' know-how for snowshoeing or trapping, it clarifies one small aspect of the overall topic. Western science does not replace Aboriginal science, it enriches a small aspect of it.

As various topics in Western science are studied within our units, additional, relevant, Aboriginal content is introduced. This is easy to do because the unit already has a framework for that content. The Aboriginal content is not just tacked on for the sake of creating interest. It frames the unit in a way that nurtures the enculturation of Aboriginal students into their community's culture (Casebolt, 1972). This differs dramatically from the enculturation into Western science articulated in the reform movement's aims (AAAS, 1989; NRC, 1996).

The discourse embraced by people engaged in Aboriginal knowledge is very different from the discourse of Western scientists. Both discourses have a function in a CCSTU. As students bring their community's Aboriginal knowledge and values into the classroom, new power relationships replace the conventional colonizer-colonized hierarchy. Students are encouraged to share their coming to knowing with their teacher in a dialogic manner.


Nelson-Barber and colleagues (1996) have mapped out the assessment of student achievement found in bi-cultural pedagogy. They offer guidance and specific recommendations for developing a culturally responsive assessment system, beginning with the recommendation to treat linguistic and cultural diversity as strengths. An example of student assessment from the Navajo (Diné) Nation demonstrated the fruitfulness of portfolio assessment. Portfolios were shown to promote student autonomy and they reflected the cultural context of learning, not just the process and product of learning. Thus, coming to knowing is nurtured by portfolio assessment. Other kinds of culturally responsive assessment techniques can be designed rationally (Solano-Flores & Nelson-Barber, 1999; Solano-Flores, Jovanovic, Shavelson, & Bachman, 1999).

The efficacy of student self-assessment (Black & Atkin, 1996) lends credence to negotiating with Aboriginal students on how school science will be assessed. Without such a negotiation, the balance of social power and privilege reverts back to the colonizer-colonized hierarchy.

Conclusion The integration of Western and Aboriginal science in our CCSTUs does not follow any particular mode of integration described in the literature (Beane, 1997; Brownlie, 1991). At different times a unit will use multi-disciplinary, inter-disciplinary, and multi-cultural approaches to instruction.

Culturally sensitive CCSTUs are designed to help Aboriginal students feel that their science courses are a natural part of their lives. CCSTUs give students access to Western science and technology without requiring them to change their own cultural identity. Students are not expected to adopt the worldview endemic to Western science. However, for those students who have a gift or talent for Western science, a CCSTU lays the foundation for further study in science and engineering.

In either case, cross-cultural science and technology units encourage a change in the power relationships between a teacher and his/her Aboriginal students in ways that promote mutual respect, coming to knowing, and the ethic of harmony with Mother Earth. As a result, teachers and students are expected to become better critical social actors in a society enriched by cultural differences. This is the essence of bi-cultural pedagogy.


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