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Cultural Border Crossing And Collateral Learning

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Education
Wordcount: 1719 words Published: 24th Apr 2017

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Cultural border crossing is said to occur when a person is moving from one social community to another. A student recently excelled in her GCE ‘O’ Level June Examination and was transferred to an International School of the country from a science prime school of the country by her parents. This girl for instance will be experiencing cultural border crossing as she is moving from a local government school to an international school where the cultures of this international school is largely distinctive from her previous school (as this school’s system is an adaptation of the United Kingdom’s educational system).

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Collateral learning on the other hand is dealing with how the learners build their scientific knowledge with slight interference and interaction of their indigenous concepts. In a simple educational notion, collateral learning can be said as a solution to how the students cope with the cultural border crossing. There are different types of collateral learning (as this particular theme of learning is not of the interest of the writing, it will not be elaborated further) for instance, for the girl who just entered the international school, she has learned that in this new school the classroom learning environment is different from what she has been experiencing even when she was in the prime science school for about four and a half yeasr. She was said to be really quiet in the class by her Biology teacher and the teacher thought she was kind of not interested in her study but her results showed the otherwise. She didn’t expect that her teacher would see her that way as she was mostly expected to be quiet during the lesson in her previous school. Now she learned that she needs to be more actively involved and she is slowly becoming actively participating in the lesson. This might be termed as dependent collateral type of learning.

Incorporating the teaching what scientific culture entails in the everyday life of the learner into the science curriculum in Brunei Darussalam as a strategy for helping students cross cultural border

A cultural approach to teaching and learning according to Aikenhead (2001) involves students in cultural negotiations. This negotiation happens in a situation where learning science is experienced as “coming to knowing,” a phrase borrowed from Indigenous educators (Ermine, 1998; Peat 1994). The negotiation in school science is termed as “multi-science education” (Ogawa, 1995). Through the cross-cultural science teaching these negotiations can be facilitated (Aikenhead, 2001). Coming to knowing is about developing cultural identity and self-esteem (Cajete, 1999; McKinley, 1998; McKinley et al., 1992; Richie & Butler, 1990

For most indigenous students, the cultural approach to science education in the learning of Western is a cross-cultural event (Aikenhead, 2001). Students often made transition from their everyday cultures associated with home to the culture of Western science (Aikenhead, 2001). The smoothness of one’s ability to cross cultural border can partly determine their success at learning the nature of another culture (Aikenhead, 2001). Teachers’ assistance is often needed by these, in the same way a tourist in a foreign land requiring the help of a tour guide (Aikenhead, 2001). In short, a science teacher needs to play the role of a tour-guide culture broker (Aikenhead, 1997). This is where the teaching approaches come into context in which the teacher acts as a culture broker. As a culture broker, the teacher clearly recognizes the border to be crossed, escorts students across that border, and assists students negotiate cultural struggles that might arise (Aikenhead, 1997).

A culture-brokering science teacher need to make the existence of border crossings obvious to the students during the teaching and learning by recognizing students’ personal preconceptions and Indigenous worldviews that have a purpose in, or association to, students’ everyday culture. The teacher as a culture broker identifies the culture in which students’ personal ideas are placed, and then introduces alternative cultural point of view, that is, the culture of Western science, in the context of Indigenous knowledge (Aikenhead, 2001). At the same time, a culture broker need to make students aware of what culture he/she is talking in at any given moment (e.g. Indigenous science or Western science), as teachers might unconsciously switch between cultures, much to the confusion of many students(Aikenhead, 2001).

An example of classroom (or labs) setting in which students are made aware of what culture he/she is talking in at any given moment as illustrated by Aikenhead (2001) is by having two different black boards or in almost all schools in Brunei would be white boards- one for Indigenous science, another for Western science. Aikenhead (2001) explained that one of the boards is used to record ideas expressed in the discourse of the community’s Indigenous knowledge, while the other board is used to express the culture of Western science. By interchanging from one board to the other (cultural border crossing), students consciously change language conventions and conceptualizations. This cross-cultural teaching as claimed as Aikenhead (2001) aids students expand their access to Western science without losing sight of their cultural identity (Aikenhead, 2001).

An alternative to the above approach is by implementing a technique to realize any clarification emerged from the Melanie study (Aikenhead, 1996). The idea of the technique is to draw a clear distinction between the language students use to explore and develop their own ideas about natural phenomena, and the language scientists usually use. In this technique students split a page in their notebook in half, labeling the left-hand column “my idea” (personal knowledge of an event or explanation from the point of view of one of the student’s life-world subcultures, and using its language) and the right-hand column “subculture of science” (canonical knowledge using appropriate scientific language).

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The teaching in culture brokering should promote discourse (Cobern & Aikenhead, 1998; Driver et al., 1994) to provide students with opportunities to fully engage in the learning. The teaching should give students opportunities to sound and express their ideas in their own cultural way without being judged for being “unscientific. Teachers can easily do this by being open yet still being reasonable to the students. For instance, adopt more discussion type of lesson rather than teacher spoon feeding the students with the knowledge at all time or better known as the ‘chalk & talk’ lesson. Students should also be allowed as much as possible to apply their indigenous culture knowledge during any discussion or any class activity. ). To facilitate students’ border crossings, teachers and students both need to be flexible and playful, and to feel at ease in the less familiar culture (Lugones, 1987).

Based on different but related research programs in Western educational systems, Costa

(1995), Cobern (1994b), and Layton et al. (1993, Ch. 8) come to very similar policy recommendations: we should teach science embedded in a social and technological milieu that has scope and force for students’ worlds, worldviews, or practical experiences (respectively) that is the teaching in any way should make connection or relation with the society as well as the technological context. There is a need for teachers to dismantle barriers between students and science, by making the delivery of the science content easily understood and providing a vision of the importance of science in their everyday life. For example in biology, the factor affecting the rate of transpiration is also applicable to factors to hanging clothes outside under the direct sun.

Teacher should present the science teaching with a different representation to avoid students to perceived science as something complex and abstract and in a way that it is interesting and always grabbing their attention and arousing curiosity making them want to learn more so they know more. The teaching should be presented in a simple manner in a way that it should be directive that is using simple second communication language (most of the time for Science classroom would be English) so it would be easier for the students to grasp the main concept, for instance in biology, use the term small and large intestine instead of ileum or colon respectively. The teaching should be inclusive especially during class activities. It is inclusive in a way that all students are made involved and they have the notion that every single of them is capable of doing what is instructed in the science lesson during class activity on any scientific experiment for example the ability to use microscope to look at microorganism. Students also need to be given opportunity to explore and play to demonstrate to them the fun and engaging aspects of learning science. This is like giving them firsthand experiences in science learning to provide a means for them to access science, and to start questioning their place in science (Howitt, www.aare.edu.au). Aikenhead (2001) once stated that “When we perceive our students differently, our instruction can change accordingly”.

As a whole, Solomon and Aikenhead (1994) stated that teachers need to connect the course content to students’ academic interests by constructing a bridge to the culture of Western science out of technical and social issues, and out of the history, epistemology, and sociology of science. Aikenhead et al. (1998) suggested that teaching of science should be able to draw upon the cultural worlds of students and makes sense in those worlds. Teaching methods should be developed to aim in incorporating the content or aspects of another culture into a students’ everyday culture and enable students to enjoy and construct meaning out of Western science without the need to assimilate science’s cultural baggage (Aikenhead et al., 1998).


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