Oral traditions: a contextual framework for complex science concepts—laying the foundation for a paradigm of promise in rural science education

Leanne M. Avery, Bryan J. Hains

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

The overarching goal of this paper is to bring a diverse educational context—rural sayings and oral traditions situated in ecological habitats—to light and emphasize that they need to be taken into consideration regarding twenty-first century science education. The rural sayings or tenets presented here are also considered alternative ways of learning and knowing that rural people (elders and children) acquire outside of school in rural places of home and habitat. Throughout this paper we explore the complex nature of rural sayings or tenets that have been shared by community elders and examine their historic scientific roots. In so doing, we uncover a wealth of information regarding the diverse rural sociocultural and ecological connections and the situated macro and micro-contexts from which these tenets arise. We argue for a preservation and educational revitalization of these tenets for current and future generations. We show how this knowledge both augments and differs from traditional western science and science curricula by illuminating the ways in which oral traditions are embedded in place, people, memory and culture. We close by presenting an alternative paradigm for science education that incorporates pluralism as a means to enrich current place-based pedagogies and practices. We suggest that in order to tackle the complex problems in this new age of the Anthropocene, revitalizing elders' wisdom as well as valuing rural children’s diverse knowledge and the inherent connectivity to their habitats needs be cultivated and not expunged by the current trends that standardize learning. As stated in the call for this special issue, “rurality has a real positionality” and much can be learned from individual and unique rural contexts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-166
Number of pages38
JournalCultural Studies of Science Education
Volume12
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.

Keywords

  • Local knowledge
  • Place-based learning
  • Pluralism
  • Socio-ecological
  • Syn/autecology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies

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