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Robyn Howson

Robyn Howson
What was your personal motivation behind participating in this project?

For me, this project followed on from another one I was doing in quality teaching for Science and it just seemed to me that there was more to do with Aboriginal perspectives, to fit it into Science to make it more relevant.

How did you go about making links with your local Aboriginal community?

In this project, I didn't actually make any links personally. We were able to use the resources of the Department of Education and the Catholic Education Office and they were able to make contacts for us and that took a lot of the worry out of how to find people in the community who had knowledge of the local Aboriginal societies. So that was really helpful.

How has your view or perspective changed on the impact of Aboriginal beliefs and culture on scientific understanding?

I think my views changed quite a lot, actually. When you look at the knowledge that Aboriginal people have, say, about things like the weather. They were looking at very long cycles: nine years, ten years, forty, forty thousand years, whereas we tend to look on it as a day-to-day thing or maybe a seasonal thing but for them the seasons were much longer and having that knowledge passed down from one generation to another is something that would really affect the way we could predict weather.

What strategies would you use in developing further teaching units to address Aboriginal perspectives in Science?

Well, I think I'd use pretty much the same strategies as we used in this project. First of all, we started off by brainstorming ideas where could we fit them into the syllabus sensibly and naturally, without making it seem as if we were trying to force the ideas. Talk to your colleagues - where can we fit this? Then look for some information and see how it fits in.

What barriers did you encounter in trying to undertake this project?

The main barriers that we encountered in this project were like with any research project, is actually trying to find information to start off with. We had a bit of trouble finding relevant Aboriginal sites to start off with. When we typed in 'Indigenous Astronomy', for instance, we got a lot of stuff from Maori cultures or even Egyptian cultures and African cultures and it took us a long while to pin down some Aboriginal websites. Once we got that there wasn't a great deal of trouble structuring it into lessons.

Where to from here? What will you do in future to plan for and implement Aboriginal perspectives content into your Years 7-10 science teaching-learning program?

Well I think now we've got a perfect opportunity to start including Aboriginal perspectives into all our units of work. We've got the new syllabus on the table. We're going to be reworking them anyway, so why not include some work on this project. I can see a really good opportunity to get going on this.

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