Everyday objects of learning about health and healing and implications for science education


  • Wanja Gitari

    Corresponding author
    1. Transitional Year Programme, University of Toronto, 49 St. George Street, M5S 1A1, Ontario, Canada
    2. Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning, OISE/University of Toronto, 252 Bloor Street West, Toronto, M5S 1V6, Ontario, Canada
    • Transitional Year Programme, University of Toronto, 49 St. George Street, M5S 1A1, Ontario, Canada.
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The role of science education in rural development is of great interest to science educators. In this study I investigated how residents of rural Kirumi, Kenya, approach health and healing, through discussions and semistructured and in-depth interviews with 150 residents, 3 local herbalists, and 2 medical researchers over a period of 6 months. I constructed objects of learning by looking for similarities and differences within interpretive themes. Objects of learning found comprise four types of personal learning tools, three types of relational learning tools, three genres of moral obligation, and five genres of knowledge guarding. Findings show that rural people use (among other learning tools) inner sensing to engage thought processes that lead to health and healing knowledge. The sociocultural context is also an important component in learning. Inner sensing and residents' sociocultural context are not presently emphasized in Kenyan science teaching. I discuss the potential use of rural objects of learning in school science, with specific reference to a health topic in the Kenyan science curriculum. In addition, the findings add to the literature in the Science, Technology, Society, and Environment (STSE) approach to science education, and cross-cultural and global science education. © 2005 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Res Sci Teach 43: 172–193, 2006