Intercultural Science Learning Outside the School
- Personal dimension: values, attitudes and intercultural competences of prospective teachers
- Mathematics and Science Subject dimension: (inter)cultural perspectives on the subjects themselves
- Mathematics and Science Education dimension: pedagogical issues, in particular in respect to dealing with diversity in classrooms.
In this module, teachers at ITE (initial teacher education) are introduced to intercultural science learning outside of school.
The environmental challenges being encountered by the society are growing simultaneously with the challenges faced by the current school system due to increasing cultural diversity. Being at the intersection between out-of-school pedagogy, intercultural pedagogy and science education, this module aims to equip future science teachers with knowledge and skills to teach the topics relating education for sustainable development in an out-of-school intercultural context.
In an intercultural pedagogical practice, it is important to focus on the dynamics and interactions that occur between students having diverse cultural backgrounds. The focus of such practice lies on relationships and interaction where backgrounds or contrasts are substantiated and made visible, and 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.
In this module, we focus on science and school organized activities outside the classroom. Different cultural backgrounds and pre-knowledge of preservice teachers are seen as resources. Interactions between preservice teachers having diverse cultural backgrounds are at focus. Preservice science teachers will acquire subject and culturally relevant pedagogical content knowledge on education for sustainable development starting with biodiversity in different ecosystems, processes and factors influencing them, followed by fieldwork and classification of species (e.g. plants), then moving towards developing action competencies. The cultural aspects will be integrated throughout the whole phases of the module.
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 relevant until today and can be considered as a background for reflections related to education for sustainable development. Moreover, 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 of this approach is to move forward gradually, from engaging children and youth into admiring nature and providing them with knowledge about nature, to 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 (Figure 1 and Presentation ).
The focus of the module described below is to provide preservice teachers 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 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” opportunities 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 students 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.
Alternative 1 (minimum, duration: 250 min + 60 min homework):
Alternative 2 (duration: 340 min + 60 min homework):
Alternative 3 (duration: 460 min + 120 min homework):