Re-thinking the Integration of Socioscientific Issues in Life Sciences Classrooms Within the Context of Decolonising the Curriculum

Part of the Contemporary Trends and Issues in Science Education book series (CTISE, volume 52)


A resurgence of the decolonising project on the global agenda has witnessed critiques of ubiquitous Euro-Western education models and stimulated scholars’ imagination of alternative education models. This has shifted the collective gaze of several scholars in science education towards the revival of indigenous knowledge systems (IKS) to accomplish two goals: first, to address asymmetrical structures of knowledge production and consumption and second, to foster a more intimate connection between science and humanity. In this chapter, the call to decolonise the curriculum, the integration of IKS into the curriculum, and the role of democratic, responsive education within society, are discussed to provide the rationale for advancing a socioscientific issues-based instruction within the South African context. Using tenets from critical pedagogy, this qualitative study reveals how three purposively selected novice teachers, who were studying a module towards an Honours degree, entered a transdisciplinary space. In this space they developed and taught science lessons which focussed on socioscientific issues within the context of decolonising the curriculum. The teachers recorded their identification, planning and teaching of socioscientific issues in portfolios of evidence and reflected critically on their pedagogic practice using reflective journals. Findings revealed that teachers identified socioscientific issues based on their in-depth knowledge of the socio-cultural contexts of learners and their communities. As critical pedagogues, they adopted a human-centric approach to teaching and designed pedagogic activities to stimulate argumentation and critical thinking among learners. Teachers emerged as being intellectually imaginative, and demonstrated the capacity to respond to social challenges through the curriculum.


Critical pedagogy Responsive science education Decolonising the curriculum 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of EducationUniversity of KwaZulu – NatalDurbanSouth Africa

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