The integration of Indian Indigenous Knowledge into the SA Life Science curriculum
This study considered the integration of Indian indigenous knowledge (Ayurveda) into the South African Life Sciences curriculum and was undertaken at a time when university students were embroiled in the #FeesMustFall campaign for free tertiary education, and for a decolonised curriculum (Le Grange, 2016). Against this background, emerged the urgent need to integrate more indigenous knowledge into the South African school curricula. Although the national CAPS curriculum policy document (DBE, 2011) stipulates this integration, it is silent on how it should be achieved. Current textbooks make exclusive reference to African indigenous knowledge while excluding the indigenous knowledge of minority groups such as Indians, who make up South Africa's rainbow nation. This study used Ayurveda (a type of Indian indigenous knowledge) as a basis to contribute towards the pedagogy of indigenous knowledge integration using inquiry-based teaching strategies at short-learning programmes (SLPs) for Life Sciences teachers. An extensive literature study examined the theoretical and conceptual framework of this study. Social constructivism, and Vygotsky's (1978) zone of proximal development (ZPD), forms the theoretical framework. Concepts such as pedagogical content knowledge (PCK); the nature of science (NOS); the nature of indigenous knowledge (NOIK); conceptual change; self-directed learning (SDL); and Ayurveda itself formed the conceptual framework. Links between the basic principles of Ayurveda with specific topics in the Life Sciences curriculum further justified its inclusion. This qualitative study was situated within a larger research project for SDL, which used design-based research (DBR) as a research methodology. My study was informed by the design flaws from Cycle 1, and formed part of Cycle 2. The design flaws identified in my study were subsequently refined and served to inform Cycle 3. Purposive sampling was used, and only Life Sciences teachers were selected to attend the SLP. Data was gathered using questionnaires, portfolios, interviews, and lesson observations, to examine the integration of inquiry-based techniques and Indian indigenous knowledge learnt at the SLPs. These multiple data sources afforded a 'thick description' (Geertz, 1973) and contributed to research rigour. Data was subjected to a coding method recommended by Saldana (2009). In-depth analysis using the CHAT lens examined the tensions that arose. Provisional themes emerged and were distilled into the main findings of the study, one of which suggested that despite the SLP being well-received by the teachers, actual implementation during lessons of what was learnt fell short, and teachers reverted to traditional transmission modes of teaching. A contradiction of control showing this dissonance emerged by juxtaposing two CHAT activity systems. Tensions were ascribed to systemic pressures and an under-developed PCK for indigenous knowledge. Teachers complained about a lack of time and an over-loaded curriculum. Contributions included the integration of Ayurveda into the Life Sciences curriculum; providing design principles to inform the next cycle of DBR; and motivating teachers to become self-directed learners and reflective practitioners. Limitations included the small number of participants; poor submission rate of portfolios; and the unwillingness of many teachers to have their lessons observed. Future studies could be done on teachers engaging in classroom action research; more nuanced views of the tenets of indigenous knowledge; possible revision of the Life Sciences curriculum; and pre-service teacher education to include inquiry-based activities using Indian indigenous knowledge.
- Education