INTRODUCTION TO CULTURE AND DIVERSITY FOR PROSPECTIVE MATHEMATICS AND SCIENCE TEACHERS
In this module teachers at ITE (initial teacher education) are introduced to intercultural science learning outside of school.
A multicultural society derives its name due to the co-existence of many cultures in the society in a similar manner as a school is defined to be multicultural because students from diverse cultural backgrounds attend that school. However, the way in which this cultural diversity is organized and taken into account does not become explicit only by describing a society or a school as multicultural. Schools that consider diversity as a resource make sure that all students’ backgrounds and experiences are brought forward and appreciated. Such schools contribute to an increased insight and a deeper understanding for all students while giving all students the opportunity to succeed. It is the school which adapts to student diversity, not the other way around.
Within an intercultural pedagogical practice, it is important to focus on the dynamics and interactions that occur between students having diverse cultural backgrounds. An intercultural pedagogical practice, therefore, consists of focusing on relationships and interaction between students with different cultures, and where backgrounds or contrasts are substantiated and made visible. Mutual understanding is developed through interaction and dialogue (Lahdenperä, 2004; Lorentz & Bergstedt, 2006; Østberg, 2013). Emphasis is not only laid on making children aware of the differences but also the similarities between different cultures, countries and diversity of all other kinds.
This module is part of:
x Personal dimension: values, attitudes and intercultural competences of prospective teachers;
x Mathematics and Science Subject dimension: (inter)cultural perspectives on the subjects themselves;
x Mathematics and Science Education dimension: pedagogical issues, in particular in respect to dealing with diversity in classrooms.
The global society is going to encounter a series of environmental challenges in the years to come. The school as an institution has an important role to play in preparing children and youth for tomorrow’s society. In 1992 the United Nations composed the declaration «Agenda 21, think globally – act locally” as a result of the UN conference: “Conference on Environment & Development” in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/documents/Agenda21.pdf).The declaration is still relevant today and con be considered as a background for reflections related to education for sustainable development. In addition to this, a pedagogical model like “The Environmental Staircase” (Halvorsen 1993; Jelavic 2014; Jordet 2000; Lysklett 2013) provides a realistic approach for this field of education. The main idea is to move gradually forward starting from engaging children and youth with admiring nature, then providing them with knowledge about nature and next applying this knowledge in a model and system thinking. Finally on the top of the staircase stands evaluation and management competence, which means the knowledge and skills that enable the students to use and utilize their knowledge in the context of society.
The focus of the module described below is to provide the teacher students with special competence in some of the “building blocks” of the knowledge that is necessary to climb the staircase from admiring the nature to becoming a conscious and responsible citizen of a society characterized by constantly increasing diversity. In order to achieve this aim, it is important to attain the knowledge about the diversity of life found in different ecosystems, abiotic factors that co-operate with these diverse organisms and the ecological processes and ecosystems. We hope that this module could develop students’ nature admiration and empathy, support their concrete biological knowledge about some key elements of ecology, and help them to be aware of the need of system thinking competence. This will hopefully increase their management ability faced to complex challenges connected to nature and environment.
This module will enable prospective science teachers to:
- Become aware of the benefits of “outside of school” for learning scientific concepts and procedures in an intercultural context;
- Learn to value the importance of concrete out-of-school experiences to bridge communication/language problems;
- Appreciate the intercultural background and pre-knowledge of pupils as resources rather than barriers for learning scientific concepts and procedures;
- Develop pedagogical approaches by using different arenas (e.g. urban or rural areas, museums, local factories) – to promote creativity, language learning and conceptual understanding;
- Develop competency in teaching topics related to the diversity of nature (ecology, evolution, energy, and nutrient cycles) in an intercultural context.