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Jane Pearce

Jane Pearce
Science Consultant
How did you go about making links with your local Aboriginal community?

I spoke to the Aboriginal Community Liaison Officer at the District Office and she introduced me to a local community elder called Uncle Wes Marne. He told me how important he felt it was that Aboriginal perspectives be included in all units of work, right across the curriculum. He became my sounding board about the use of tools and weapons and he also helped me understand the protocols involved with dealing with Aboriginal communities. He really made the whole project real for me.

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

This project highlighted for me the importance of acknowledging Aboriginal perspectives and explanations of phenomena, along with other cultures. It is extremely important to teach students that opinions and beliefs should be valued, which is supported by the new PFAs [Prescribed Focus Areas] in our current Science syllabuses. Initially, I felt it would be very difficult to include an Aboriginal perspective, as I felt it may conflict with the natures of some of our Western science. I've learnt through this project you can include two views and values and acknowledge both.

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

I would look through the Science syllabuses to find suitable areas, particularly topic areas, where the addition of Aboriginal perspectives would be meaningful and not just added for the sake of it or as an afterthought. Its really important that the perspectives be written into the unit and not just put in later. I would very much use the community, talk to consultants, elders, students and parents and include them in this process.

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

Some elders I spoke to talked of previous experiences that had not been positive in working on other projects and were slightly unsure of what to expect from this one. It is extremely important that all input be acknowledged and they should be shown the final product for their approval before it is used in the classroom.

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