Integrating Indigenous Knowledge (IK) artefacts and IK strategies in teaching mechanics: insights from community elders, physics teachers, and learners in Zimbabwe.
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The study is an exploration of how physics teachers can integrate indigenous knowledge systems (IKS) through using indigenous artefacts when teaching Advanced Level concepts in mechanics. It adds to the growing body of research on decolonizing indigenous curricula. The researcher was motivated by the negative effects of colonization in physics education, lack of contextualization when teaching Advanced Level physics, both of which make the subject difficult for learners resulting in low pass rates, high dropout rates, and loss of interest in the subject. The study also seeks to empower local communities of elders, teachers, and learners to participate in their education. The study was conducted in Masvingo District, a rural area in Masvingo province in Zimbabwe. It identified and explored a variety of indigenous artefacts that can be integrated in the teaching of physics. The artefacts are thus cognitively valuable in providing culturally sensitive scaffolding or meditational tools that facilitate deeper understanding of mechanics concepts. Theoretical frameworks of Vygotsky‟s sociocultural theory grounded in an indigenous research paradigm and humanity/Unhu/Ubuntu were used in this study. A transformative participatory Research (TPR) design was employed. Qualitative data were generated from a purposefully selected sample comprising 18 teachers, 15 learners from each of the three high schools and 22 elders from the community. The following research instruments were used in the study: observations, questionnaires, individual interviews, and focus group discussions. The findings revealed that the twenty indigenous artefacts identified in this study could be used in physics for conceptual teaching. The findings pointed to a culturally aligned, decolonizing, and contextualized and community acknowledged pedagogical science-IKS model which allows enrichment and understanding of physics concepts through IK artefacts, without challenging the fundamentals of traditional physics principles. The study implies that physics concepts can be understood through the indigenous knowledge systems of teachers, learners and the community together with the associated IK artefacts. The researcher recommended that IKS and associated IK artefacts should be integrated in all the components of the teaching processes and the school infrastructure should also promote the integration of western science with IKS.