Keeping the local local : recalibrating the status of science and Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) in education

M.W. Eijck, van, W.-M. Roth

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    60 Citations (Scopus)


    The debate on the status of traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) in science curricula is currently centered on a juxtaposition of two incompatible frameworks: multiculturalism and universalism. The aim of this paper is to establish a framework that overcomes this opposition between multiculturalism and universalism in science education, so that they become but one-sided expressions of an integrated unit. To be able to do so, we abandon the concept of truth. Instead, we adopt a contemporary epistemology that (a) entails both the cultural and material aspects of human, intersubjective reality; (b) concerns the usefulness of knowledge; and (c) highlights the dynamic, heterogeneous, and plural nature of products of human being and understanding. Drawing on narratives of scientists and aboriginal people explaining a comparable natural phenomenon (a salmon run), we show that both TEK and scientific knowledge, though simultaneously available, are incommensurable and irreducible to each other, as are the different processes of knowledge construction/evolution inherent to the constituting artifacts. Drawing on social studies of science, we point out that the transcendent nature of scientific knowledge implies absence of local heterogeneity, dynamic, and plurality making it useless in local contexts other than itself. We discuss the educational implications of this recalibration
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)926-947
    JournalScience Education
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - 2007

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