Decolonizing methodologies and indigenous knowledge: The role of culture, place and personal experience in professional development


  • Pauline W.U. Chinn

    Corresponding author
    1. Curriculum Studies Department, University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, Honolulu, HI 96822
    • Curriculum Studies Department, University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, Honolulu, HI 96822.
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This study reports findings from a 10-day professional development institute on curricular trends involving 19 secondary mathematics and science teachers and administrators from Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Korea, Philippines, the United States, and People's Republic of China. Participants explored the roles of culture, place, and personal experience in science education through writings and group discussions. Initially, Asian participants tended to view indigenous knowledge and practices more negatively than U.S. peers. After a presentation on indigenous Hawaiian practices related to place and sustainability, they evaluated indigenous practices more positively and critiqued the absence of locally relevant science and indigenous knowledge in their national curricula. They identified local issues of traffic, air, and water quality they would like to address, and developed lessons addressing prior knowledge, place, and to a lesser extent, culture. These findings suggested critical professional development employing decolonizing methodologies articulated by indigenous researchers Abbott and Smith has the potential to raise teachers' awareness of the connections among personal and place-based experiences, cultural practices and values, and teaching and learning. An implication was the development of a framework for professional development able to shift science instruction toward meaningful, culture, place, and problem-based learning relevant to environmental literacy and sustainability. © 2007 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Res Sci Teach 44: 1247–1268, 2007