An exploration of basic 7-9 science and technology teachers' conception of IK as drawn from their lived experiences and classroom practices in Imo State Nigeria.
Nwokocha, Godson Chinenye.
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The importance of contextualising science and technology education in Africa through the integration of Indigenous Knowledge (IK) or Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS) has been long emphasised. Some research studies focusing on teachers’ conceptions and understandings of indigenous knowledge/indigenous knowledge systems and ways of integrating them into their pedagogical activities has been conducted in many countries across Africa. However, within the Nigerian educational context, there seems to be a lack of such articulate discussions. It is against this background that this study sought to explore basic 7-9 science and technology teachers’ conceptions of indigenous knowledge as drawn from their lived experiences and classroom practices in Imo State, Nigeria. The research was framed under the interpretivist paradigm and conducted within a qualitative case study methodology. Selection of the participants was based on convenient and purposive sampling. The data was analysed and discussed in relation to postcolonial theory and inter-epistemological dialogue. The methodology involved a three phased data collection using narratives and three focus group discussions. The study considered two research questions, namely: What are the conceptions of basic 7-9 science and technology teachers’ of IK in Imo State, Nigeria as drawn from their narratives about IK? Are these conceptions enacted in the classroom? (a) If so, how are they being enacted and what informs their enactment? (b) If not, what informs their practice? Analysis of the data collected showed that five conceptions were held by the participants, namely: Informal Knowledge, Relational Knowledge, Traditional Knowledge, Technological Knowledge that is scientifically based and Lost Knowledge. Furthermore, the analysis revealed that five key qualifying components were embedded in their conceptions of IK, these were classified as the “what” (properties), the “how” (process) the “where” (place or source) the “who” (holders) and the “when” (time or era). In addition the analysis showed that two conceptions (Relational Knowledge and Technological Knowledge that is scientifically based) out of the five were enacted by some of the teachers. On what informs the enactment of these conceptions, the analysis revealed that different factors informed their enactment and these included the need to: link local knowledge to western and school knowledge; facilitate understanding; understand how some local knowledge should be applied and developed; and provide avenues for enculturation. Additionally, in their enactment of their IK practices, the analysis seems to point to a very pertinent issue: the participants play a significant role as teachers, that is, that of cultural brokers. In other words, they encouraged inter-epistemological dialogue. For the two participants that do not enact their IK conceptions in the teaching of basic 7-9 science and technology, the analysis showed that four key issues inform their pedagogical activities: curricular issues; lack of teaching resources; learner ability; and workload. One key revelation of the analysis is that even though these teachers hold certain conceptions and understanding of IK, their teaching practices are not informed by such conceptions. It is obvious that these teachers, supposedly cultural brokers, failed to encourage epistemological dialogue in their classroom even though they are appropriately positioned to do so. This situation means that science and technology will have little or no meaning to learners’ because it will always remain at a remove and hence a mystery in terms of their lived experiences.