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OP-ED Constructing a liberatory pedagogy in science: dilemmas and contradictions

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Two summers ago the group of second grade girls I taught in science camp seemed to come from a large number of different backgrounds- Korean daughters of graduate students; white middle class children with parents who were musicians and who went river rafting in Colorado on vacations; white working-class girls of fundamentalist religious background; some from blended marriages; two low socio-economic status African Americans on scholarship. Jennifer, a child of intense religious views, chose not to participate in the questioning I was leading the girls through as they compared their experiences with kite flying. She did not participate in the 'science' side of anything we did. She led the class in turning our 'science' into arts and crafts; turning the empirical testing of kite tail design into a workshop on braiding. She polarized the group; her friends were torn between friendship for her and their interest in the group's inquiry. I responded by changing the curriculum to accommodate: I provided many different materials for braiding and then crafts; I asked questions about the qualities of materials in light of what the children wanted to do with them. I asked the children repeatedly to think and articulate ways they thought what we were doing was science. The science became hidden beneath the 'crafts' but it was still there as we examined the properties of materials, testing and assessing them. We designed things and tried to realize them. Such an evolution in the science we were doing happened by responding to the children's wishes rather than forcing them to choose science or their own desires. from the journal of Margery Osborne
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 1998-05-01

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