This chapter will investigate science learning from the viewpoint of inclusive practices, which acknowledge cultural perspectives and Indigenous science knowledge.
The authors acknowledge that they are not Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders but have sought guidance from Indigenous associates to ensure that the representation is factual and truthful with due respect for Indigenous peoples.
At the end of this chapter you will be able to:
■ discuss the principles of inclusive teaching in relation to science learning
■ describe ways in which educators can be more inclusive in their teaching, specifically with respect to science
■ describe Indigenous learning in sciences, particularly in an early childhood context
■ outline the relationship between Indigenous learning and inclusive practices.
The Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for young Australians (MCEETYA, 2008, p. 7) indicates that all students must have access to high quality schooling that is free from discrimination based on gender, language, sexual orientation, pregnancy, culture, ethnicity, religion, health or disability, socioeconomic background or geographic location.
Social justice and equity are important elements of early childhood education, where there is an emphasis on including all children in educational settings. Accordingly, this emphasis has been instrumental in changing both policy and practice to meet the needs of a diverse range of learners. In particular, people who were often discriminated against and segregated in the past on the grounds of their religion, race, ethnicity, sexuality, disability or gender are a central focus of this educational reform.
Australia is a diverse country. There are over 400 languages spoken and 16 per cent of the population has English as a second language (ABS, 2010). Approximately eight per cent of children have a disability. Differences in socioeconomic status, family structure, living conditions, health and the outer limits of ‘normal’ appearance are additional factors that add to this diversity. This highlights that children in early childhood settings have a range of different backgrounds and different life experiences.
A core value of early childhood centres is the care of all children in their centres, but with particular emphasis on the child as an individual. Being focused on individual needs and stages of development of young children, rather than age-related development, provides many opportunities for inclusivity.