Science education in urban settings: Seeking new ways of praxis through critical ethnography



The challenges faced in urban science education are deeply rooted in the ongoing struggle for racial, class and gender equity. Part of this struggle is tied to huge differences in class and involves making more equitable the distribution of resources. Another part of this struggle is tied to the rich diversity of children who attend urban schools and involves generating new ways of understanding, valuing, and genuinely incorporating into school-based practices the culture, language, beliefs, and experiences that these children bring to school. Thus, this article argues that to address these two challenges—and indeed to achieve a more just science education for all urban students— explicitly political research methodologies must be considered and incorporated into urban education. One potential route for this is critical ethnography, for this kind of methodology emerges collaboratively from the lives of the researcher and the researched and is centrally about praxis and a political commitment to the struggle for liberation and in defense of human rights. In making this argument, I have drawn from stories from my own research with homeless children. © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. J Res Sci Teach 38: 899–917, 2001