Māori and Pasifika students are over represented amongst students who are underachieving in school science. New Zealand's science curriculum aims to be inclusive of these students and to that end suggests contexts for learning that take account of different types of life experiences. While equity is intended, such approaches may stereotype students, appropriate their cultural backgrounds, and alienate them from experiences of school science learning that could encourage their subsequent participation in science-related careers and/or democratic debates.
The conscious juxtaposition of Western science with other cultural views of the natural world has been suggested as one type of response to this complex set of issues. As science educators we face the challenge of debating how best to do this if we really do value learning about the nature of science as a curriculum aim.
This paper outlines three models for aligning Western science with other knowledge systems and promotes the view that dialogue about the issues raised is a necessary first step to achieving any change in relevant classroom practice.
Paper presented at the 3rd annual New Zealand Science Education Symposium, Massey University, Wellington, 22-23 November 2002.