Pre-service teachers' experiences of learning to teach culturally inclusive science.
Pre-service teachers training at tertiary institutions are expected to adapt to and implement curriculum changes in several subjects, including Natural Sciences, which are designed by the Department of Basic Education. According to the new Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) for Natural Sciences (2011), teachers are expected to embrace indigenous knowledge systems (IKS) in order to deliver culturally inclusive science lessons. Specific aim three in the Natural Sciences curriculum (CAPS, 2011) postulates the inclusion of indigenous knowledge systems and states that learners should understand the different cultural contexts in which indigenous knowledge systems were developed. However, a review of literature indicates that this is not being practiced in many schools because teachers do not have adequate knowledge, background and teacher education to integrate culture rooted in indigenous knowledge systems in their science lessons. At the tertiary institution where my study was located, pre-service teachers were being taught to infuse cultural knowledge rooted in IKS in science lessons. This qualitative case study sought to explore 20 purposefully selected pre-service teachers' experiences and views of learning to teach culturally inclusive science in a pedagogic content knowledge module at a tertiary institution in KwaZulu-Natal. In this study, culturally inclusive science included school science which engages with alternate knowledge systems, which are rooted in indigenous knowledge systems. This research used an interpretive paradigm with multiple data generating methods which comprised of reflective journals, video recorded observations, document analysis, focus groups, and individual interviews in order to understand pre-service teachers' experiences and views of learning to teach a culturally inclusive science which is embedded in indigenous knowledge systems. Drawing on the constructs of socio-cultural theory and the Zone of Proximal Development, pre-service teachers‟ learning experiences were analysed. Content analysis was used to analyse the data obtained. Categories were developed with meaningful words, phrases and sentences. Thereafter, patterns, trends and links were established, and finally conclusions were developed. The findings included pre-service teachers‟ views and experiences of the integration of culture whilst learning to teach science. Pre-service teachers express two broad views regarding the integration of culture. The first view was the lack of integration of cultural knowledge, rooted in IKS, in Natural Sciences content modules. The second view related to the potential benefits of the integration of cultural knowledge in science lessons. The experiences of pre-service teachers' learning to teach culturally inclusive science revealed both challenges and opportunities. The pre-service teachers involved in this research expressed a lack of cultural knowledge rooted in IKS, insufficient teacher education, a lack of resources, time constraints, and inadequate details provided by the CAPS document as challenges. In spite of these challenges, the pre-service teachers who participated in this study expressed that working in groups and the use of external human resources were opportunities for them to learn to teach culturally inclusive science. Recommendations which evolved from insights from this study were directed to teacher education institutions, curriculum designers and university educators.