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Indigenous Elementary Students’ Science Instruction in Taiwan: Indigenous Knowledge and Western Science

Huei Lee, Chiung-Fen Yen, Glen Aikenhead

2011 Taiwan, Asia

This preliminary ethnographic investigation focused on how Indigenous traditional wisdom can be incorporated into school science and what students learned as a result. Participants included community elders and knowledge keepers, as well as 4th grade (10-year-old) students, all of Amis ancestry, an Indigenous tribe in Taiwan. The students’ non-Indigenous teacher played a central role in developing a science module ‘Measuring Time’ that combined Amis knowledge and Western science knowledge. The study identified two cultural worldview perspectives on time; for example, the place-based cyclical time held by the Amis, and the universal rectilinear time presupposed by scientists. Students’ pre-instructional fragmented concepts from both knowledge systems became more informed and refined through their engagement in ‘Measuring Time’. Students’ increased interest and pride in their Amis culture were noted.

Worldview, Taiwanese Indigenous education, Indigenous knowledge