Science Education Research in South Africa

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maths and science) attended the inaugural meeting in 1992, over 350 were at the meeting a ... quantitative guide to relative emphases. The figures are ...... address to the SAARMSTE conference of 2003: This the 11th meeting of. SAARMSTE.

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Studies in Science Education Publication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information: http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/rsse20

Finding Direction When the Ground Is Moving: Science Education Research in South Africa a

Cliff Malcolm & Busi Alant

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University of KwaZulu Natal , South Africa Published online: 28 Mar 2008.

To cite this article: Cliff Malcolm & Busi Alant (2004) Finding Direction When the Ground Is Moving: Science Education Research in South Africa, Studies in Science Education, 40:1, 49-104, DOI: 10.1080/03057260408560203 To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03057260408560203

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Studies in Science Education, 40 (2004) 49-104

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Finding Direction When the Ground Is Moving: Science Education Research in South Africa

CLIFF MALCOLM BUSI ALANT University of KwaZulu Natal, South Africa

Where to begin? Perhaps from the land itself—for in South Africa land and life are close: only a century ago, humans, lions and springbok shared the same bush tracks. The land, across its savannahs, deserts, hills and mountains, has witnessed migrations, battles, droughts and dreams; it has yielded farms, forests, gold, iron, diamonds and cities; it has figured deeply in dispossession and relocations (with only 13% of private land currently owned by Blacks). Land is important to South Africans (Hart, 2002). Yet humans can choose: they can be part of the landscape of their parents or, through imagination, books and travel, they can inhabit other landscapes, other cultures. Where to begin? Perhaps from ubuntu: 'I am a person through other persons; because we are, therefore I am'. In ubuntu all things—people, ancestors, spirits, God, animals, plants, rocks—are persons, so the 'I' and the 'we' are connected to all things, continuous through relationships (Shutte, 2001; Jegede, 1998; Ogunniyi, 2003a; Makhubu, 2003). 'I am because I participate.' Different relationships and contexts imply multiple selfs that have to be

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'harmonised', and in this sense self, community and nature are metaphors of each other. Participants are not all equal: ancestors are more 'person' than elders are, elders more than children, cows more than trees. Hierarchies are strong. So too, collective interests and community norms are powerful influences on individuals. The basic principles of ubuntu, in their concerns for community and human dignity, are central to South Africa's Manifesto on Human Values. In daily life, some 80% of people seek traditional healers as well as or instead of doctors when they are ill or troubled (Makhubu, 2003). Western thought and ubuntu sit together, sometimes uneasily. Where to begin? Perhaps with South African colonisation, when European sciences and technologies—in administration, production and war—imposed themselves on African life. Or later, with Apartheid and the Minister for Education's promise to parliament in 1953: 'Natives will be taught from childhood to realise that equality with Europeans in not for them... People who believe in equality are not desirable teachers for Natives... What is the use of teaching the Bantu mathematics when he cannot use it in practice? The idea is absurd.' (House of Assembly Debates, Aug-Sept 1953). Under Apartheid, inequities were systematically increased through laws strenuously implemented, including the restriction and abuse of individuals and communities, carried into allocation of education resources, and indoctrination (in schools and teacher education) through Christian National Education and Fundamental Pedagogics (Naidoo, 2004). Where to begin? Perhaps from the 'persons' of Mandela, Tutu and many others, who fought not only for democracy, dignity and justice, but reconciliation. South Africa, historically, is a nation of optimism and generosity amidst violence, struggle and crime. Following the 1994 elections, a Government of National Unity established a Truth and Reconciliation Commission rather than a war crimes tribunal. It developed a liberal Constitution and began creating new administrative structures and policies at all levels, in all spheres, in spite of poor education, resources and infrastructure in much of the country. Schools were extended and electricity and toilets added, class sizes were reduced, and new programmes of teacher education and upgrade began, linked to new policies in curriculum, school governance and management. Higher education was overhauled through closures, expansions, mergers and National Plans.

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Where to begin? Perhaps from the decline in worth of primary commodities during the 1980s, and the ascent of capitalism, value-added production and 'market forces'—global trends that, along with economic sanctions, cast South Africa into crisis. The new government faced dilemmas of addressing inequities through education and social spending, or increasing efficiencies and investor confidence through neo-liberal strategies of privatisation, competition and structural readjustment (Jansen, 1999, 2001; Nicolaou, 2 0 0 1 ; Terreblanche, 2002). Under pressure from developed-world advisors, investors and institutions, it favoured the latter, emphasizing reduction of national debt and inflation. Industries responded by technological capitalisation. Economic growth was positive but small; social spending (including spending in education) decreased in real terms; a Black middle-class was created but, overall, unemployment increased. In 2001, seven years after 'liberation', unemployment amongst Blacks is 4 7 % , a mere 6.4% of senior management positions in the private sector are held by Blacks, and Black ownership of assets on the Johannesburg Stock exchange is tiny (Mbabane, 2004). Alongside this is an 'informal' economy that operates on the edge of the law: millions of squatters live in make-shift shacks on land for which they hold no title; millions of vendors operate meagre stalls on footpaths and roadsides, their businesses unlicenced, conditions uncharted. In November 2003, with inflation and debt in check, the government shifted policy, in order to 'bridge the gap between South Africa's two economies' (Mail and Guardian Newspaper, Nov. 14, 2003). The plan is for greater government intervention and increased government spending, especially through public works programmes linked to job creation and training. Where to begin? Perhaps in rural villages, where people often live on Tribal Authority lands or as tenants on commercial farms, with no electricity and little income, where girls trudge home with water or firewood on their heads, and boys herd cattle and goats, where children walk long distances to schools that have poor resources and poorly educated teachers. About half of South Africa's population is classified as rural, living in villages or towns. What science education is appropriate here? Compare them with urban and provincial townships, where, too, schools are crowded and many people struggle to find jobs, but there is easier access to technologies, information and overseas cultures. Or perhaps the rich suburbs of Johannesburg and Cape Town, with their businessmen, gardens and high walls, and schools that rival English grammar schools. Whose science education is appropriate?

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Where to begin? Perhaps with the scourge of HIV/AIDS, which is pandemic, and striking especially people in the 25-40 age group (at the peak of work and family life), poor people and women. With HIV incidence estimated at 152 5 % (much higher in some communities) and death rates climbing, people, skills and experience are being lost from workplaces, public life and families (Malcolm, 2002a; Badcock-Walters, 2001). The demands for education, health care and social support become more urgent, even as resources are lost and morale battered. Schools and higher education are part of this, with staff and students directly and indirectly affected, just as slow to respond, as quick in denial. Where to begin? Perhaps from South African science educators and researchers, who have lived in one variation or another the vignettes sketched above, and want to contribute urgently to national transformation. They are caught between traditional conceptions of science (and science education research) as abstracted knowledge (which can be imported as necessary), and a conviction that context, with all its layers and aspects, is critically important to understanding what is and what might be in South Africa. What research is most worth doing? When there is much to be done, where, indeed, should researchers begin? It is in the nature of a journey that it must start somewhere; it is in the nature of research that it must have a focus. We begin our review with a summary of science education research that has been done in South Africa over past decades, and the focuses it has chosen. We then critique the research, in relation to the contexts and needs outlined above.

AN OVERVIEW OF RECENT RESEARCH South African science education research has grown dramatically since the mid-nineties, as opportunities and freedom of movement unfurled with the arrival of democracy. The expansion is illustrated in Laugksch's (2003) bibliography of South African science education research between 1930-2000, which includes papers from science education conferences, published articles and books, Masters and Doctoral dissertations. Only a tenth of the papers from 1930-2000 were published before 1985. 48 post-graduate degrees (Masters and Doctoral) were awarded in the 1970s, 102 in the 1980s, 277 in the 1990s (Laugksch, 2002). The conference proceedings of the Southern African Association for Research in Mathematics, Science and Technology

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Education (SAARMSTE) tell a similar story1: some 60 participants (from both maths and science) attended the inaugural meeting in 1992, over 350 were at the meeting a decade later in 2002. Parallel shirts have occurred in who does the research, and who is researched. Before the mid-eighties, science education was seriously offered mostly in White schools (catering to some 10% of the population). Research favoured White schools, and was usually conducted from White universities (though important programmes in curriculum and teacher support were underway in Black schools, especially through non-government organisations (Rollnick 1998; Rogan and Gray, 1999)). Now SAARMSTE proceedings show that research mostly concerns Black students—in schools and universities—and Black teachers. Much of it is conducted by Masters and Doctoral students, the great majority of whom are Black. Their supervisors are often White, but this situation too is changing. Laugksch (2003) provides indexes of research under keywords defined by topics, situations and methods. Counting entries in the indexes gives a quantitative guide to relative emphases. The figures are only indicative, because the bibliography was not constructed for this purpose. Where a particular project has been reported more than once (for example, as a thesis, a conference paper and a published paper) the bibliography cites all references. Further, it assigns keywords to every paper, but some papers have more keywords than others, and some keywords are more pertinent than others. Thus a simple count based on keywords gives an overestimate of output in absolute terms, but provides a rough relative measure. In total, the bibliography has 1469 entries. •

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The learning areas commonly researched were Biology (254 references), Chemistry (231) and Physics (153), with meagre attention to Environmental studies (48), STS (19), Agricultural Science (5) and Earth Science/Geography (4). About half of South Africa's population is

SAARMSTE conference proceedings are an important record of research activity in Southern Africa. Almost all research in South Africa, whether eventually published or not, is aired at SAARMSTE conferences. The Association brings together researchers in Maths and Science education (since 1992), and Technology (since 1998). Maths Education researchers have been generally more attuned to the political dimensions of education, such as critical pedagogy, real maths and ethnomathematics, than their counterparts in science, whose links have been to the less radical movements of constructivism, STS and multiculturalism. Technology Education has added a further perspective, with its clear concerns for 'human wants and needs' and hence for politics, equity, economics, environment and culture as well as technical knowledge.

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classified as rural, where agriculture is important. Earth Science and environmental education have been formal components of the science curriculum for Grades 1-9 since 1997. Technology is often listed (119), but the abstracts indicate that few of these projects are concerned with Technology Education as a field. Technology Education, with its emphasis on 'design, make, appraise', was introduced in 1997 as a compulsory study in Grades 1-9, to be integrated with science in Grades 1-6. Most studies concerned schools, more often high schools than primary schools, and more often senior grades (by which time 'Science' has given way to Physics, Chemistry and Biology). Listings under High School are of similar frequency to listings under First-year Tertiary, consistent with the changing demographics of university entrance since 1994. Research in in-service teacher education is more frequent than pre-service teacher education. By far the dominant research concerns have been Teaching and Learning, especially cognition, at school and tertiary levels. The listings include 141 references to Alternative conceptions/misconceptions, 112 to Attitudes, 40 to Culture (though many of these are concerned with cognition and misconceptions, as influenced by language), and 18 to English Second Language; 92 to Teaching Methods and 69 to Assessment (though few have assessment as their central issue). There are 68 listings under Policy, mostly concerned with policy as a context for schooling, or ways teachers interpret and implement policies introduced since 1997. Very few address policy development and critique. The corner-stones of current policies—learner-centred education (8 references), outcomes-based education (29), continuous formative assessment (3) and integrated curriculum (no references) are given scant attention as such. There are only a few listings under 'effective schools' and 'school management'. In the choice of research methodologies, frequencies under 'qualitative' and 'quantitative' are similar, as they are under 'case studies' and 'surveys'. Many of the reported studies have aspects of evaluation, often involving a curriculum intervention (with teachers or students). There are 113 listings under Evaluation.

The great majority of the papers in Laugksch's (2003) bibliography and the SAARMSTE proceedings are empirical studies: there are few position papers, meta-analyses, critiques, policy studies or essays, in spite of the extraordinary

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flurry of policy development, social analysis and confusion that has been part of 'transformation' over the last decade. The explanation for this is partly structural. Most South African science education research emanates from universities, especially through Masters and Doctoral studies. (As Naidoo (1998) observes, this is not always the case. In other fields such as social sciences, much research occurs through NGOs, research institutions and parastatals.) Thus, since the late 1990s, most South African papers at the SAARMSTE conferences are written by students, often as joint authors with their supervisors. As a matter of policy, SAARMSTE encourages empirical papers, as a way of supporting beginning researchers. The strategy is limiting. Given the scale of theses projects (and research that academics do as part of their teaching), the conference is dominated by small, self-contained, empirical studies. Further, because most papers are short, the deep thinking that researchers do about their frameworks and theorising is often not well captured. These limitations are important while SAARMSTE is a major vehicle for research discussions within the science education community. Laugksch's (2003) bibliography reveals also a limited range of topics, favouring Physics, Chemistry and Biology, cognition, and senior-school/first year tertiary teaching and learning. This emphasis arises partly from the ways research topics are chosen. In South Africa, graduate students have primary responsibility for choosing their topics. They usually choose from their personal experience (as teachers or consultants), and often conduct their research in the sites at which they work (typically urban). Because they come more frequently from upper secondary and tertiary settings than primary schools, Biology, Physics and Chemistry gain emphasis. By comparison, primary schooling, rural education, technology education and the integrated curriculum receive scant attention. Thus while student choice brings to bear 'grass-roots' knowledge and interests, students' experiences are far from representative of South Africa generally. Notwithstanding the roles that students have in choosing their research topics, supervisors are strongly influential. But supervisors too are products of their personal histories and, although the number of qualified supervisors and the range of their backgrounds and interests are expanding, senior positions remain dominated by the few academics who qualified a decade and more ago. As Laugksch (2003) and Kahn and Rollnick (1992) indicate, research through the 1980s was strongly oriented to cognition, misconceptions and language, usually in empiricist and constructivist frameworks. These specializations tend to carry forward.

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Further, because graduate studies have grown so rapidly, experienced supervisors are heavily committed, perhaps with 6-10 doctoral students at once. Supervision sits alongside their research, teaching and administrative responsibilities, amidst the turbulence of institutional restructures and community life. Opportunities for supervisors to stretch themselves and their students into new ways of thinking are constrained by time. One response has been to move towards team approaches, with individual research incorporated into larger projects (often involving partnerships across institutions and countries). This is exciting, but difficult to manage, because the great majority of South African graduate students also have full-time jobs: teams have to accommodate individual needs for flexibility, but meet the deadlines and requirements of projects. Team approaches, partnerships and large-scale projects are promoted by the major funding authority, the National Research Foundation, which awards research funds in priority areas, and makes bursaries available for student researchers in large projects (NRF, 2003).

WHAT IS BEING RESEARCHED? A CLOSER LOOK Assessment Assessment studies are occurring on two fronts: providing 'benchmark data' on schools' and students' achievements (especially through large-scale testing), and exploring what teachers are doing with policies (since 1997) of learnercentred assessment, continuous formative assessment, and assessment of competence. There is a third, larger, set of studies in which assessment is involved (for example as part of evaluating a curriculum intervention) but not as the focus of the research. The large-scale achievement studies are part of broader efforts to map South African society and education. When the democratic government came into office in 1994, there was no accurate information on the numbers of children and schools in the nation, let alone resources, facilities, teachers and their qualifications, or the number of children in Grade 3 as a percentage of those who might have been. It took some years for the descriptions to emerge. They revealed a nation of immense inequity, poor achievement and great need (e.g., Education Foundation, 1995, 1995a, 1996, 1996a; Arnott et al, 1997; Centre for Development Education, 2004).

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In science education, large-scale studies of achievement included the Third International Mathematics and Science Study, TIMSS (Howie, 1997, 1998, 2001, 2003) and measures of scientific literacy (Laugksch & Spargo, 1996, 1999, Ogunniyi, 2003b, 2004). They were strongly influenced by overseas projects: Laugksch and Spargo derived their conception of scientific literacy from the AAAS work, Ogunniyi from standard science content (as expressed in South African syllabuses before 1997, and largely incorporated into the new policies); TIMSS was designed by an international committee heavily influenced from USA and Europe. TIMSS was conducted in 1995, and again in 1999 (TIMSS-Repeat, with Grade 8 only). The politics and methodological issues surrounding international studies such as TIMSS and their use in developing countries have been deeply criticised (e.g., Adler & Lerman, 2003; Keitel & Kilpatrick, 1999), pointing to their questionable validity, meaning, motives and purposes. In South Africa, students achieved badly on TIMSS, often scoring little higher than would be expected by 'chance', and showing no significant improvements from 1995 to 1999 (Howie, 2001, 2003). In the TIMSS-Repeat study of 1999, the collection of data on school, classroom and community variables was extended, and tests of English proficiency were added. The resulting statistical analyses quantify (in their way) what was known already: language, location, school and community conditions strongly determine achievement. More than 70% of students wrote the tests in their second or third language, and their results on the English tests correlated with results on their Maths tests (Howie, 2003). With language in South Africa strongly linked to poverty, location, resources and teachers' qualifications in local schools, the TIMSS results mainly point to the structural constraints and inequities that have long been, and still are, part of South African society. The problems of language and its correlates bear down on almost any largescale assessment of students' achievements. When so many scores are low, the tests provide little discrimination among students, limiting the capacity of statistical analyses to explain the results. Ogunniyi and his team developed a battery of diagnostic tests to assess students' understandings of theoretical concepts in science (Ogunniyi, 2003b; Ogunniyi & Fakudze, 2003) and process skills (Ogunniyi, 2004). The tests were completed in English by samples of Grade 7, 8 and 9 students across South Africa. The results showed poor achievement, with mean scores on most questions ranging between 16% and 50%. Written responses indicated language problems as well as conceptual problems. As in TIMSS-Repeat, scores correlated with information

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students provided about their first language and the locations of their communities, but gave limited insight into what students can do and how they think. However, the interactions between language, learning and assessment are not simple. Malcolm et al. (2004) conducted classroom studies and assessments in Grade 5 classes in impoverished communities in the Western Cape. English was the first language for very few students. The classroom studies (20 classes in 2001 and 20 in 2002) showed, in general, 'good' science teaching and rich learning opportunities; students engaged the lessons deeply and were confident they were learning. However, they performed badly on tests based on published modules the schools were using. The results, in these schools, could not be readily attributed to poor teaching or poor engagement. Analyses suggested students were having difficulties with language. In 2003, instead of testing, the researchers asked students to present, in any way they liked, something they had learned from recent classes. Most students drew pictures and wrote about science concepts and models; many offered enactments; some presented orally. Almost everyone chose to speak and write in English. The next day, students were interviewed about their presentations. The researchers analysed the data in terms of the complexity of answers (using the SOLO taxonomy of Biggs & Collis (1982)), and the 'standard' of answers (using the assessment standards of the National Curriculum). Almost all of the students scored at or above the Grade 5 standard, and most presentations were complex, offering a number of related propositions. The tests had not tapped this learning, learning that students chose to express in English. Of course research in assessment cannot be disentangled from curriculum, teaching and the conditions in schools and communities. With a view to policy changes since 1997, Rogan and Grayson (2003) developed a theoretical model to describe stages of educational development of schools and classrooms, bringing together benchmarking with progression in implementing new policies. Their model borrows from standards-based approaches to curriculum and assessment (such as South Africa's National Curriculum Statements): it describes domains of development ('constructs'), elaborates them through a small number of sub-domains ('strands') and, for each strand, defines four levels of progression. The scales imply a continuous developmental sequence and are normative in that the higher levels define what schools should aspire to. The norms and pathways derive from curriculum policies and research, theories of school management and change, and theories of effective schools. The model has three constructs: Profile of implementation (processes, learning

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outcomes and assessment methods in the classroom), Capacity to innovate (resources, teachers, students and school management), and Outside support (physical and professional support to the school, and direct support to students). Work with the model has begun, especially as part of a large project in Mpumalanga province. Surveys were completed of 240 teachers and their learners, complemented with case studies of eleven schools. Rogan (2003) reports on part of the data, centred on nine classrooms and the Profile of Implementation. Using video, the researchers re-viewed classroom activities as required, looking at various strands of the Profile in turn. Rogan (2003) reports that the only learning outcomes addressed were process skills, concept development, applications of science, and decision-making, with major emphasis on concepts. Practical work, and science-society connections were rarely evident. However, conceptual development was limited because teachers seldom addressed it systematically. Classrooms were well organised, but group strategies were often unproductive and made little use of students' ideas. On the Profile of Implementation, lessons were usually Level 1 in Classroom Interaction (well organised, with lessons prepared and students attentive), and lower in practical work and science-society. There is much still to be done if the new policies of curriculum and assessment are to come alive in classrooms. Learning Research into learning in science education has been dominated by cognition studies, especially information processing and constructivism. Both branches have been informed by theories that stress individuals' mental representations in relation to a learning situation. This focus shapes not only interpretation in terms of the internal 'architecture of the learner', but the research agendas, directing studies to exploring individuals' attitudes and orientations. The cognitive focus has usually been on the 'science' of science education in the context of the classroom, and so investigations tend to have taken place within a closed rather than an open framework. A similar limitation emerges in much of the South African research on misconceptions. In spite of its claims of personal and social constructivist frameworks, the research is often mechanistic in its epistemology: the individual's mental 'template' is to be diagnosed and modified so that the proper learning takes place. Variations in learning from this perspective are seen not so much as variations in understanding (or types of understanding) as

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variations in the templates required for different content. For example, Grayson (1996) identifies four elements of learning: knowledge, cognitive and practical skills, metacognitive skills and dispositions. She argues that developing life-long, critical and creative learners can be facilitated by means of 'specific instructional intervention', related to these elements and their integration. An alternative approach, more inclined to experiential learning and learningas-process, is apparent in the work of a smaller number of researchers. For example, Brookes (1998) stresses the impact that conceptions of knowledge and learning have (for students as well as teachers) on how learning and teaching proceed. Moving away from deficiency models, he stresses learning as a process 'of engagement by which a person gets to know'. However, from the perspectives of research and teaching, this type of 'engagement' is somewhat open-ended and messy. It does not map out a clear path for either the process or the result of learning, and leaves possibilities that escape the control of the teacher (Brookes, 1998). Other approaches, also emphasising the non-linear and, in a sense, 'spatialized' or 'distributed' aspects of learning, have drawn on theoretical insights outside constructivism. The cognitivist model of learning as an activity that takes place inside the individual's head or within the community of practitioners is seriously challenged by these approaches. One such approach is phenomenography (Marton, 1981; Marton & Booth, 1999). Originating in Sweden, it has been introduced into science education research in South Africa by the Physics Education Group at the University of the Western Cape. (See, for example, Linder & Marshall, 1997, 2003). Phenomenography is the study of the qualitatively different ways in which people experience and conceptualize the world around them (Lybeck et al, 1988). It is concerned with what Marton terms an 'insider's perspective' of what the learner is trying to achieve within the process of learning. Marton distinguishes phenomenography from cognitivist perspectives by highlighting 'the variance in experience' as the unit of analysis. Rather than looking at or into the individual through a description of behaviour or cognitive structures, the phenomenographic researcher, through a description of experience, looks with the individuals to see the world as seen by them. In this way phenomenography presents itself as non-dualistic: there are not two worlds, i.e. an objective world and an internally constructed subjective world, but one world, the world as experienced by the individual learners.

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The other approach is actor-network theory (Callon, 1986, 1999). Central to actor-network theory is the notion of spatiality. In abandoning the cognitivist view of the individual learner, actor-network theory concerns itself with a unit of analysis which is 'situated spatially and temporally' (Nespor, 1994: 7). This means that the learner, learning, the tools of learning, the context of learning etc. are not bounded to one particular context, but are 'distributed' with shifting boundaries and compositions that spread across space and time. This focus represents a clear move away from the notion of an individual mind that 'does the thinking'. Alant (2001, 2004) draws on both phenomenography and actor network theory to illustrate how, within these frameworks, the traditional cognitivist view of physics learning and problem solving can be conceived anew. Her study of introductory university level physics problem solving focuses on the multiplicity of contexts of learning (whether institutional, physical, personal, etc.) which are drawn upon in the sense-making process. Included in this conceptual understanding are issues that go beyond the content aspects of physics learning. These include, amongst others, issues that relate to how students insert themselves into the relations of authority and power of the physics discipline as well as students' understandings of themselves and their place in society, of school, of physics, of physics classes etc. (Hammer 1995: 394). These various contexts fully constitute the students' history of physics learning and problem solving. To characterize this history means to refer to 'different spatio-temporal distributions of knowing' which are embedded in the different settings of problem solving. In mathematics education in South Africa, again seeking to move away from mechanistic cognitive theories, Breen (2003) argues for learning as an essentially holistic process, drawing on Begg's (1999) work on Enactivism2, and Davis's (1996) notion of hermeneutic listening3. Like Brookes (1998),

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The word 'enactivism' is derived from the idea of knowing in action, and draws on systems theory. The way a living system comes to know about the medium in which it finds itself, is through interaction with that medium. This implies that the system's knowledge of its world depends not only on the medium, but also on the actions the system is capable of. 3

According to Davis (2002), 'listening is not a technique that can be reduced to a set of precriptions or guidelines. It is something that we enter into, something that we are, 'emerging from our occupation with others and with their meanings ... We listen with our ears, with our eyes, with our stomachs, with our bodies, bringing the collected weight of experience to our emerging understandings'.

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Breen (2003) acknowledges how difficult it is to operate and remain at the holistic, complex level. In research and in teaching, it is often necessary to 'zoom' in on a part of the process. Inevitably, one then tries to 'fix' the part one has researched, even though it does not represent the 'complexity of the phenomenon in action'. The cognitivist attachment to templates (or schemata) and errors ('problems') has also shaped research into learning when students are not native speakers of English. In much of the South African literature, second language learning comes across as a euphemism for lack of learning; the plight of the Black child who 'lags behind' in the English dominated setting of science teaching. The following is illustrative: 'From matric results of African students in South Africa and also from their study progress in universities and technikons, these students have problems in learning and understanding physics. One possible problem, among many problems which could be contributing to the students' difficulties, may be the language through which instruction is carried out, i.e. that it is not their mother tongue' (Moji & Grayson, 1995: 523). We find in the literature two camps on issues of language and learning. One, largely centred around the work of Rollnick (2000), focuses on second language as a barrier or hindrance to acquiring scientific language (see also Clerk & Rutherford, 1998; Sigabi, 1998; Amosun & Taho, 2002; Block & Rollnick, 2003; Qhobela, Rollnick, & Stanton, 2003). The other, more critical of the (generally unquestioning) acceptance of English as the language of science teaching, seeks a deeper understanding of the influence of language (such as the use of mother tongue or code switching on the part of both learners and teachers) on the practices of learning and teaching of science and mathematics. These researchers (e.g. Adler, 1997; Setati, 1997, 1998, 2003; Cleghorn & Dube, 1998; Madzudzo, 2002; Ncedo et al, 2002) are often working in Mathematics education. They ask questions such as: • • •

What does it mean to teach or learn science and mathematics in English for second language speakers of English? How do we make sense of the dominance of English? How can different languages be used together as resources for understanding and theorising experience? Where is the space for multilingualism as a tool of understanding?

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Why do policy documents in science and mathematics continue to marginalize African languages?



What does the dominance of English mean for science and maths teaching and learning?

It is interesting too, that Afrikaans, which correctly lays claim as an indigenous language and has a history as a language of science and mathematics teaching in South Africa, has fallen outside the scope of language and learning research in science education, be it as mother tongue or second language. Studies of language and learning issues for English (first-language) speakers are also uncommon. A central issue in the consideration of language, as we noted in our discussion of large-scale assessment studies, is that as a result of South Africa's history, language serves as a valid proxy for race, oppression, poverty, location, poorlyresourced schools, under-qualified teachers, and so on. This fact is then linked to another—English as the language of economic and political power, of libraries, higher education and the internet. In a moment, 'multiculturalism' slips from being a valued characteristic of South African society (based on the Constitution, the notion of language as a resource, and the rights of individuals to participate in society and learning in the language that is most expressive for them) to being an impediment to achievement, whereby the responsibilities for non-achievement are placed on individuals and entire cultures. Part of this is the conflation of language with culture and race. For example, Cameron, Doidge & Rollnick (2003: 488) write: 'Foundation students at South African universities are mostly black South Africans. They come from disadvantaged backgrounds, where apart from issues such as lack of resources, the teachers are often underqualified .[... ] These students are found to perform poorly in geographical astronomy. They struggle to understand the concepts presented to them despite the fact that explanations of natural phenomena such as stars, eclipses, seasons and tides have historically formed part of the compulsory geography syllabus both at primary and secondary level. Could this poor performance be attributed to their cultural beliefs, traditions and customs governed by a particular world view?' (Emphasis ours) Most of the research into multiculturalism within science education in South Africa as yet shows little sign of critical reflection. An exception is the article

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by Cleghorn and Kakkar (2001). They take issue with the status quo through questions such as: 'What enables the Western/Eurocentric world view of science and technology to dominate globally as rational and scientific, something good for all, promoting development and modernization, solving problems of poverty, illiteracy and superstition?' (Milne and Taylor, 1998 in Cleghorn & Kakkar, 2001: 277); and 'Why is it that science curricula and the content of science textbooks worldwide manifest this particular orientation?' (McEneany, cited in Cleghorn & Kakkar, 2001: 277). Cleghorn and Kakkar (2001) based their work on a component of the declaration of the World Conference on Education for All (UNESCO, 2000), which strives to 'see the culture of science and technology better integrated with particular societies by including local socio-cultural dimensions of science and technology in teaching, curriculum and materials' (274). They regard the challenge to integrate the social, scientific and technological as linked to two factors: 'embedded contradictions within the ideology of the teaching profession' and 'the sociological features of power relations as they are manifested in the world-wide standardisation of science texts and the global textbook industry' (275). The authors caution against an 'embedded ideology' in teacher education (and, we might add, educational research) that continues to 'train for categorization, for exclusion, for considering the racial, able, linguistic "other" as at risk' (281). African thought and border crossing Part of the South African trend to constructivist and information processing has been derived from concerns for the Black African learner, bringing to the fore questions of language, culture and worldview. For example, Ogunniyi (1993, 1995) called for the 'systematization of constructivism' stressing the importance of the learner's ideas and knowledge, and socio-cultural factors in the science education classroom. Cognitive structures, he argued, are intimately related to cultural worldview. As a result, 'attempts to understand the mentality of the child living in a traditional society should be a research priority in science education'. He proposed world view hypotheses as an

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explanatory model (Ogunniyi, 1995: 624). As we shall see in more detail further on, considerable work has been done, building on Ogunniyi's ideas, for example/border crossing' (Costa, 1995; Aikenhead, 1996) and 'collateral learning' (Jegede, 1995). However, much of the research has essentially accepted these theories, neither critiquing nor extending them. One exception is Kuiper (1998). Adopting an overt post-modernist stance, he is critical of the often simplistic dichotomies—notably 'African' vs 'Western'—that permeate conceptualizations of an 'African' science education. He argues that they not only reflect a superficial reading of history, but fail to recognise the variety and fragmentation in both the African and the Western. To the points that Kuiper (1998) raises, we add our concern that world-view theories, notwithstanding their socio-cultural base, remain largely limited to a cognitive ideology centred on the psychology of the individual and learning science. We take up these issues in detail below. As might be expected in a nation where everyone is directly and indirectly influenced by Western science and philosophy, in addition to African and Christian worldviews, there is wide interest in their interaction, whether from perspectives of instrumental learning of school science, multiculturalism, or critical approaches to alternative ways of knowing. We referred to some of the research earlier, noting the tendency to regard culture and language as impediments to science learning and to seek solutions through students' cognitive strategies. Many studies have tended to look for differences or, conversely, no differences between African and Western learners. Studies that report 'little difference' typically concern misconceptions that are common to all learners (and teachers), such as concepts in mechanics (Moji & Grayson, 1997; Ogunniyi, 2000), heat (Grayson, 1999) and biology (Naidoo, 2000). Explorations of difference often focus on language issues, such as use of logical connectives (Cumming, 1991), and translating science concepts between English and African languages (eg. Rutherford., 1993). Some have focussed on African proverbs and sayings (e.g., Netshisaulu, Lubben & Campbell, 1997). Others have explored worldviews and their interaction with science (e.g., Ogunniyi, 1988, 2002, 2003; Ogunniyi et al., 1995, Fakudze, 2003a, b, Manzini, 1999, Khumalo, 2001, Cameron et al, 2003, Maharaj 2004). Our focus in this section is the research related to world-view theories. As Hawes (1979) observed: 'No valid consideration of the school curriculum can be made without consideration of a child's view of causal relationships and

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no analysis of causal relationships in African children can be made without consideration of the nature of (their) spiritual beliefs.' (Hawes, 1979: 13) The differences between African thought (as idealised in ubuntu) and Western science (as represented in school science) have been widely explored (e.g., Ogunniyi, 1988; Ogunniyi et al., 1995; Jegede, 1998; Horton, 1971, Frankfort & Frankfort, 1977). One system admits spirits and ancestors as 'forces' in nature; the other does not; one emphasises collectivity of all things, the other detachments and interactions; one is holistic and context-based, the other is reductionist; one sees causes and effects as often mixed, the other as separable; one sees 'humanness' or 'person' as the centre of being, the other does not; one sees space as encompassing spiritual and material events and time, the other as material objects only. Horton (1971), however, also draws attention to the similarities: both systems build theories based on evidence and argument, with levels of theory dependent on the context being explained, but with different epistemologies. Yet within African classrooms, only the Western science position is acknowledged and deployed. Borrowing ideas from cultural anthropology, researchers such as Jegede (1995, 1998) have argued that African thought systems and Western science can be considered as two different cultures, and that African students have to 'cross borders' as they move into science and out of it. Crossings may be difficult or straightforward, depending on the individual's commitment to the crossing, and the congruity (or not) that an individual sees in particular instances (Phelan, 1991; Costa, 1995; Aikenhead, 1996). Jegede (1995) postulates 'collateral learning' as the process of border crossing, which may range from developing ideas from each culture separately through to integrating ideas into a coherent understanding. Ogunniyi (1988, 2000) points to students' flexibility according to context, through his 'contiguity theory': they may be reasonably comfortable holding different worldviews at once, and choose one or another or some integrated version according to the situation at hand. Aikenhead (1996), building on ideas of border-crossing, argues that for many learners success in school science raises issues of human rights: the school system requires that they accept enculturation into Western science, assimilate science into their own worldview, or keep the two worlds separate—perhaps understanding and using both, but restricting themselves to Western science in the classroom. All of these theories have extensive research support—through empirical studies and philosophical arguments. However, recent research in South Africa

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suggests alternative ways of theorising them. In this we draw especially on the work of three Masters students, Manzini (1999), Khumalo (2001) and Maharaj (2004), and papers by Ogunniyi (1998, 2000, 2003) and Kuiper (1998). To these, we add similar findings in India by Koul (2003) and earlier cautions by Dzama & Osborne (1999). Manzini (1999) worked with Grade 11 Physical Science students, incorporating Zulu technologies and experience into lessons headed towards Western science concepts and skills. In one activity, the class burned incense (as is done in some Zulu ceremonies), and talked about why the smoke rose. At the end of the sequence, in the context of a science lesson, some students insisted that the smoke rose to find ancestors; some said it rose because of convection and air currents that ancestors controlled, and some discounted any roles of ancestors. Malcolm (2002b) offered Manzini's scenario as part of a questionnaire to 160 talented school Physics students who were part of a University enrichment programme. Only half of the students answered the particular question, but, of those, 4 7 % said the smoke rose to find ancestors, 36% because of convection, and 1 3 % that ancestors controlled convection: 60% saw roles for ancestors in the rising of the smoke. When Manzini questioned his students, some retorted, in effect: 'Do you want us to tell you the science answer, or what we believe?' They could answer either way. As he noted, all the students belonged to the same school class and the same community, so all participated in the same cultures and subcultures on a day to day basis; but they made personal choices, with more of less conviction, according to their own criteria and purposes at that time of their lives. There are two critical findings in Manzini's work. One is that the students had great pleasure from having their own culture and traditional technologies in the science classroom, and engaged their science learning with interest and enthusiasm. The second is that their science learning did not necessarily affect their views of rising smoke in the ceremonial context of burning incense, and their individual explanations were somewhat independent of those of their peers. In other words, alongside the epistemological issues of 'border crossing' are essentially political ones of exclusion and inclusion: students respond positively to having their lives and cultures admitted to the science classroom, regardless of the judgements they make about the acceptability of various explanations. Khumalo (2001) built on Manzini's work, using physical science phenomena (beer making, cooking, body heat, mist and rain, thunder and lightning) with Grade 12 students in a rural community. She extended Manzini's approach by adding interviews with community elders (largely responsible for passing down traditional teachings). The students' explanations closely accorded the elders'

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explanations, though sometimes extended through school science knowledge. In this sense, the students' explanations had the authority of the elders. Except for the role of the supernatural, the elders' and students' explanations were not in conflict with school explanations. For example, they explained the production of fire (from rubbing sticks together), and the cooking of vegetables in a pot in ways consistent with Western science. At the same time, they did not connect ideas of heating, working, phase change, etc into broad theories of energy: their explanations were more specific to the situation at hand. Further, they were prepared to overlay 'mechanistic' explanations with 'supernatural' influences. While extending their technical explanations through Western science, they frequently, if necessary, set them into the context of supernatural influences. As an example, two brothers explained that one of them had 'special hands' (a gift from God) when it came to gardening. The brothers had tested this by planting two rows of pumpkins, giving each row exactly the same treatment except for the person of the gardener. They reported that the 'special hands' produced markedly more and better fruit. Maharaj (2004) used a questionnaire with 194 Physics students in an urban township—young people with ready access to urban cultures. One section of her study asked students to compare three healers—the inyanga, sangoma and doctor. The inyanga works in many ways like the doctor, using herbal medicines. The sangoma works on a larger canvas, with more concern for psychological, social and spiritual problems. A third practitioner, the umthakathi, works primarily with spells and spirits. During trial interviews, students were hesitant to talk about the umthakatbi, and on their advice, Maharaj excluded the umthakathi from the questionnaire. Part of the questionnaire asked where the three healers got their knowledge, and whether they worked scientifically. All but one student believed that one or more of God, ancestors and snakes were sources of knowledge for at least one of the healers. When individual questionnaires were analysed across the three cases, responses were often not consistent: for example, students might report that the doctor obtained knowledge from snakes, but the inyanga didn't, and so on. Even so, an overall pattern emerged, from which Maharaj identified three positions: an indigenous position (where primary sources of knowledge were God, ancestors and/or snakes), a Western position (where primary sources were books and teachers) and a heterogeneous position. These positions were supported by a factor analysis in which the differentiation of factors suggested that the students were thinking carefully and conscientiously about the questions. Within the indigenous and heterogeneous positions, God tended to be especially important for the doctor and inyanga, ancestors and snakes for

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the sangoma. On the question of who works scientifically, many students thought all three healers did, and suggested reasons such as measuring and mixing, using tests and evidence, doing experiments, having knowledge of diseases and chemicals, using and inventing technologies, and making people well (i.e., if the treatment works it must involve good science). Reasons given for one or another healer not working scientifically tended to revolve around conceptions of good science and bad science: it was bad science (and in that sense unscientific) if the medicines were not accurately prepared or did not work. Searches for correlations between sources of knowledge and working scientifically provided no patterns: where healers got their knowledge had no particular bearing on whether they worked scientifically. Among the conclusions Maharaj draws are that students are quite flexible about considering different contexts differently, and generally not bothered by, for example, snakes being a key source of sangomas' knowledge and sangomas working scientifically. She notes also that God, ancestors and snakes as sources of knowledge provide explanations of individual imagination and creativity - aspects of science often ignored in school programmes, but important for the students. These three studies, we suggest, throw a different light on border crossings. The students were all keen to learn science and successful in it, and at the same time the great majority maintained traditional beliefs. This was so in subcultures of urban townships as well as rural villages. To the extent that border crossings were involved, most students seemed to cross them without fuss, managing contradictions through a combination of personal beliefs and perception of context. Many students saw the contradictions simply as deep, perhaps unanswerable questions to be considered, even enjoyed, from time to time. (Parallels in Western thought include the wave-particle duality, and morality: most of us believe in ethics of care, truth and justice as bases of moral behaviour, but the three are logically incompatible—caring for one child may lead to injustice to another, and so on.) When contradictions become unmanageable, one or another belief gives way. HIV/AIDS is an example: does infection result from contact and probability, or from some spell or retribution? With the incidence of HIV/AIDS so high as it is, the retribution theory ultimately had to give way, because it was so severely threatening trust and stability within communities. These studies, we believe, suggest an epistemological weakness in bordercrossing research. The research imposes a Western analysis on cultures that do not employ a Western epistemology. In particular, in the tradition of Aristotle,

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Western epistemology defines categories, essentializes their definitions to sharpen the borders, allocates instances to one or another category, then argues for competition and ascendancy between them. The data fit, but the meaning has been pre-determined. From the perspective of ubuntu, the situation is different: • •



From connectedness and holism, compartments are usually fuzzy, and when used are obviously simplifications and heuristics. While there are multiple selfs and multiple knowledges arising through different relationships, contradictions and ironies are a natural part of life. While the objective is to find harmony between different positions, putting them into competition with one another is unhelpful. What is sought is not 'one right answer' but an harmonious solution. That solution depends on logic, but also on values and respect for alternative positions.

The essentializing of ubuntu is a problem. Ubuntu gives important roles to ancestors and God, but does not deny mechanistic cause-effect relationships: no-one invokes ancestors to explain the functioning of a lever or electric circuit; the inyanga, like the doctor, uses knowledge that has been generalized and tested through experiments to diagnose illnesses and prescribe treatments. As Africans for centuries have complained, 'Europeans spotted belief in spirits and on that basis discarded an entire knowledge system.' This can occur more subtly. For example, Frankfort and Frankfort (1977) argue that the idea of a collective, participative self counts against objectivity in that the self is not separate from the world and can not stand above it as observer: all relationships are personal I-Thou relationships, rather than I-It relationships. While objects take their meaning through relationships, severing relationships changes the objects. Without separation of subject and object, Frankfort and Frankfort argue, theorising in the scientific sense is not possible. However, this conclusion does not quite fit with African practice. Without abilities to 'stand outside', objectify, and theorize about 'what will happen if...', herbal medicine could not develop, no house could be built, no battle could be planned. Ubuntu as a system centres on connectivity, holism and participation, but within that context there is a place for reductionist, mechanistic thinking. The essentializing of science is a problem. There are many scientific worldviews, of which reductionist, mechanistic science is one (albeit the one usually portrayed in school science). That one has been highly successful in

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theorizing simple systems, but even in physics it is now 100 years since it was jolted by Quantum Theory and Relativity, and decades since the development of thermodynamic theories of 'far from equilibrium states' and chaos theory. In complex systems, such as ecology and the human organism, interpretivist and participative theories have always been necessary, and in social systems, even moreso. Thus, within the scientific community, many scientific worldviews co-exist, with their own borders and crossings. This multiplicity is as true, perhaps, within individuals as within a community: a biologist uses a positivist worldview in one domain but not in another, choosing and shifting according to context and purpose. Opening up such discussions in science classrooms would likely find resonances with many African students. Perhaps the issue for African students, as noted earlier, is not so much that school science offers a contradictory (positivist) world view but that it imposes it as superior to their own. School science makes its case not through experiments and debates, or elucidation of the philosophies of science, but by speaking loudly and excluding alternatives. When Manzini extracted from his thesis a paper for the SAARMSTE journal (Manzini, 2000), he wrote not on border-crossings, but on the profound shifts in engagement, interest and achievement that his students displayed on seeing their lives, beliefs and culture incorporated into the science classroom. While issues arose and some were discussed, for many students, practical acknowledgement of their lives and thoughts was enough. There is much to be done in working through the epistemological, political, and technical issues in bringing African experience and science together in the curriculum. Given that one function of any national school system is to pass on the cultural heritage of its people, post-Apartheid South Africa must find ways of bringing African thought, as well as Western science, into the science curriculum. This position is clear in the Science Curriculum Statements. The policy is centrally concerned with Western science knowledge, but science is to be presented as a 'way of knowing' (and defined more broadly than the usual positivist version), with other ways of knowing and indigenous knowledge also to be considered. Perhaps remarkably for a policy document, it concedes that we don't know how to do that: science curriculum development which takes account of worldviews and indigenous knowledge systems is in its early stages and will be addressed with enthusiasm by many educators. This Revised National Curriculum Statement creates an invitation for

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such research and development, and in this way it is an enabling document rather than a prescriptive one (Department of Education, 2002: 5). Our discussion and the Department of Education challenge raise interesting issues in regard to epistemologies and research frameworks. Typically, the researcher chooses his/her framework, and that becomes the basis for conceptualising the research and interpreting the data. Even when the research gives voice to 'the researched', it interprets their voices through the researcher's epistemology. The epistemology determines the outcome (whether in modern or post-modern paradigms). Researchers in South Africa are only beginning to see the prospect of using frameworks and epistemologies consistent with—or at least consonant with—those used by the researched. The idea is relevant not only in world-view studies, but in studies of school management, problemsolving, the nature of explanation, and so on. It is explored, for example, by writers such as Tarnas (1996:433-445) and Moodie (2003), who see problems in post-modernism as in modernism, and raise possibilities of other epistemologies—especially participative epistemologies (where participation goes beyond exchanges between 'objects' to shared experience and intuitive knowledge, and the participants are not only people, but 'the cosmos'). Tarnas (1996: 433-445) deploys two instances to show the incompleteness of current 'science' as an explanatory system: its inability to adequately explain processes by which scientists such as Newton and Einstein imagined their theories, and the processes by which entire communities accept (or not) paradigm shifts, such as the Galileo/Newton shift and the quantum/relativity shift. Newton played with ideas that falling apples and orbiting moons had something in common; Einstein played with ideas of riding on a light beam, and conceptions of simultaneity. Why? This kind of creativity is also at work within 'ordinary people' at the every-day level, as in Maharaj's (2004) example of medical practitioners: What are the processes by which 'experienced' and 'gifted' healers and doctors make such rapid and accurate diagnoses? Text-books In South Africa, text-books are critically important. In schools where teachers often have limited content knowledge and planning skills, and where students need to do considerable work by themselves, text-books serve as sources of science knowledge, curriculum planning and teaching ideas for teachers and students. They are an appropriate focus for research into learning.

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The research fits into a number of categories. One treats material development as part of teacher development, emphasizing the production of innovative materials geared towards 'lifelong learning' (Mphahlele & Vratsanos, 1995; Gray, 1997; Gray & Ramahlape, 1997; Lubben, Campbell, Maphalala & Putsoa, 1998). A second concerns the correctness of content (in relation to scientific accuracy and policy outcomes). A third focuses on the accessibility of language, diagrams and layout. Doidge (1997) focuses on the readability of a High School biology textbook, Peacock (1997) on primary school texts and second language learners, Rollnick, Green and Block (2003) on the accessibility of chemistry bridging-programme texts and Schonborn et al. (2003) on cognitive issues in visual representations in Biochemistry. Sanders and Khanyane (2002) explore the interpretation of illustrations by grade 10 learners. A further group has looked at textbooks as catalysts for changing teacher practice—for example, the extent to which new textbooks promote activity-based, learner centred teaching and learning approaches (e.g., Mashalaba & Sanders, 2003). While this research has brought significant insights, it needs extending. For example, it might include: • • •

• •



the textbook writer as an interpreter of the intended curriculum (see Gray, 1997; Clark, 1997); the textbook as a way of 'enrolling' students into the various disciplines; the essential incompatibility of a 'standard text-book' with localised curriculum development and learner-centred education, and alternatives that might be imagined; the perspectives on science and learning that are presented, and the approach to indigenous knowledge; alternatives in curriculum design, structure, voice and layout in print formats—whether books, booklets, newspaper/magazine productions or html/CD, whether directed at students, teachers or both; the power relations manifest in the world-wide standardization of science texts and the global textbook industry (Cleghorn & Kakkar, 2001).

Textbooks play a pivotal role in educational change or lack of it, all the more in countries such as South Africa where, often, teachers have limited capacity to design curriculum, and students have access to very few books. As indicated above, the issues go beyond curriculum to the structure of the text-book industry. Publishers want large markets to keep unit costs down, and this militates against learner-centred, locally contexted curriculum. Further, text-

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book buyers, overall, tend to be conservative: books that are radical in genre, content, format or approach risk poor sales. On the other hand, South Africa's curriculum policies and the fact that governments evaluate and purchase textbooks for students provide considerable pressure for innovation. This creates an important space for research into texts and text design, whether as part of text development or as research into the quality, purchase and uses of texts. The research can go beyond 'market forces' and the technical aspects of language and layout, outcomes and content to the ideological assumptions that underpin text (such as the natures of science, learning and progression, conceptions of 'normal' students and lives, the major purposes of science education). In fields such as literature and history, textual analysis and critique are well-established research fields, with methodologies that might readily be adapted to school science texts. Such work has barely begun. Teaching and teacher education It is a truism that effective classroom learning depends mostly and most directly on teachers. So does achievement of government policies. Accordingly, teacher education and research into teaching have prime importance. The picture that emerges from the research on assessment and learning is that many teachers and schools are struggling—with crowded classrooms, poor resources, inadequate knowledge and skills, and policies that belong to an educational paradigm greatly different from those of the past. The situation is largely a result of history, including the history of teacher education and teaching. Teacher education, like other domains of South African life, has been a sea of turbulence and contestation. As an instrument of apartheid, teacher education followed the same rules as schooling in the racialization of education. Most Black teachers were educated in Black Colleges of Education, which operated in highly regulated ways, much as schools operated (Naidoo, 2004; Parker, 2003). The Colleges offered two- and three-year programmes that combined academic and professional studies, often at standards barely above those prescribed at school level. Black universities were also available, offering four-year programmes. White students attended White universities (secondary school preparation) or colleges of education (especially for primary school preparation). Because Black Colleges were often created as part of negotiations with particular Homeland governments (where universities did not exist, so colleges were major providers of post-school education), the supply and demand of teachers was poorly planned—many administrations were involved

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(at national, provincial and Homeland levels), and information and coordination systems were often haphazard (Parker, 2003:21). The picture was further complicated by distance education provided through two institutions and, increasingly during the nineties, by private colleges in partnership with higher education institutions. Rationalisations of administrative arrangements and institutions began with the new government in 1994, and continue. In 1994, Parker (2003) notes that there were 150 public institutions providing teacher education to some 200000 students (80000 in Colleges of education). By 2004, at the start of the academic year, teacher education occurs only though Higher Education Institutions (universities and technikons), with an estimated 4700 students in 33 institutions (Ministerial Committee on Teacher Education, 2004, private communication). In 1994-97, as statistics about teachers and schools were gathered and coordinated, it became clear that too much of the schools budget was going to personnel (90% in 1997/98; Nicolaou, 2001:84). A programme of voluntary retrenchment and redeployment (continuing) was instituted, but it failed to shift teachers to poor and rural schools, and impacted heavily on the abilities of schools to match teachers with teaching posts (a problem especially in maths and science education). It also resulted in a large pool of unemployed teachers, usually poorly qualified (Crouch, 2003). Alongside these changes in administrative arrangements came shifts in curriculum policies and qualifications structures. Given that the great majority of teachers had received only two or three years of pre-service training, one need was for sets of qualifications (as part of a National Qualifications Framework) that enabled teachers to upgrade through award-bearing courses. By 2004, upgrade programmes are the major form of professional development for practising teachers, and distinctions between 'pre-service' and 'in-service' provision have become blurred. At the same time, changes in school-level policies (in curriculum and governance) redefined the roles of teachers, consistent with devolution of curriculum design, learner-centred, outcomesbased education, integration across learning areas (up to Grade 6) and participative management within schools. To this turbulence must be added the upheavals of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, which involves teachers in at least four ways (Malcolm, 2002a; Coombe, 2003, Crouch, 2003, Ramrathan 2003). First, teachers are in the age-range where fullblown AIDS emerges, and find themselves, their colleagues, principals and friends affected. Second, they are in the front line, in that their work puts them

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into close contact with large numbers of affected children and families. Third, especially in rural areas, teachers are looked to for leadership in educational matters and care within their communities—concerns that range through prevention, abuse and stigma, assistance for people in trauma, and the content and purposes of the curriculum. Fourth, major problems of teacher supply and demand arise, as teachers die, children die or leave the system, and teachers leave employment or move to positions in other sectors (such as science-based industries). Projections of teacher-demand and supply are fraught, dependent as they are on interest in teaching careers, opportunities and support for entry to teaching (and other) careers, HIV infection rates, and treatments that postpone the onset of AIDS. In South African research, findings are seldom clear. In any projection though, teachers and schools live increasingly close to HIV/AIDS. The point of this (too brief and oversimplified) sketch is to provide some hints of the chaos of policy shifts, redefined roles and expectations, deployments and job uncertainties that teachers in South Africa currently experience, on top of an apartheid history whereby opportunities, resources, training, identity and community were racially defined. All of these factors feed into teacher education, even as institutional and curriculum arrangements for teacher education are rapidly changing. The science education research in one sense captures this turmoil, but in other ways it does not: as in its approaches to learning, it tends to research 'problems' that teachers face and ways to fix them. It makes a lesser attempt to understand and theorize the complex lives of teachers and schools. The research literature reports on teachers' content gaps and misconceptions (e.g., Pandey & Braun, 2003), their process skills (e.g., White & Aldous, 2003), their lack of professionalism (e.g., Grayson & Ngoepe, 2003), their inadequate approaches to lesson plans (e.g., Matimolane & Sanders, 2004), their limited understandings of the nature of science (eg. Mnisi & Dekkers, 2003), their classroom practices (e.g., Pillay & Sanders, 2002), their conceptions of learning (e.g., Hlahla, 2003), the classroom climates they effect (e.g., Glover et al., 2002), and so on. In many cases, diagnosis has been linked to interventions, using for example problem solving strategies (Kriek & Grayson, 2003), concept maps (Dolo et al., 1997), prepared classroom instructional materials (e.g., Van den Hoek, 1997), and focused workshops (e.g., Johnson et al., 2002). While the majority of projects are of this pattern, some are broader, offering richer descriptions of the conditions in which teachers work (e.g., Gray 1998; 1999), case studies of innovations (e.g., Rogan & MacDonald, 1985; Nakedi, 2003)), action research (Wilkinson & Kuiper, 1999), collaborative curriculum development (Southwood, 2003), and case descriptions of teachers at work (Zesaguli,

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2003). Less research has been reported in pre-service education, but the pattern is similar: assessing student-teachers' needs and problems, and designing courses and interventions to address specific problems. As in the research into learning, we see in the strategy of 'identify the problems, then fix them' a number of assumptions. First, deficiencies, by definition, are measured in relation to some desired or ideal state, defined by government policies, research-based knowledge, or ideologies of schooling and society. The ideal states may not accord at all the ideals, purposes and theories that actually guide teachers' work. Second, as in the learning studies reported earlier, particular cognitivist learning theories are assumed to be 'best'. Third, while the strategy of 'identify the problems and fix them' appears to accord with constructivist approaches of 'start from the experiences and beliefs of the teachers', it easily becomes an imposed, managerial one: 'this is where we need to be, so let's do some work that will get us there'. This is a limited interpretation of constructivist teaching and learning. Fourth, the strategy implies a mechanistic metaphor of education and change, not only through its notion of 'fixing' but in its assumption that improving even a small part of the machine will inevitably improve the machine overall. The limited achievements of the last decade suggest a need for deeper explorations of teachers and teaching, more closely linked to the contexts in which teachers work and why they do what they do. This requires research that stretches into the history and sociology of schools and communities in South Africa, and closer critique of current policies. While science educators have done little of this, much has occurred in other domains of educational research in South Africa, such as policy, curriculum and teacher education more generally. These broader works suggest ways in which science education might probe teacher education more deeply. Teachers in the broader context of South Africa The experiences of colonialism and apartheid create a deep ambivalence for South Africans (Black and White): on the one hand, imported Western knowledge, technologies and skills are envied for their instrumental power and capacities to improve the quality of life, but on the other hand they are viewed suspiciously and sceptically because of their colonising and exploitative effects (Mattson & Harley, 2003). This is as much an issue for the liberation discourses of participation and human rights (including 'people's education for people's empowerment') as for the neo-conservative discourses of individualism, merit, competition, and regulation. For instance, many communities in KwaZulu Natal are strong supporters of the Inkatha Freedom Party, who, through the 1980s especially, were in ideological and bloody

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conflict with supporters of the African National Congress (ANC). Many in these communities view government policies as an imposition of ANC ideologies and Western liberalism, and as affronts—for example, to the traditions of authority vested in hierarchy (including respect for elders) and community norms and structures (arising from collectivity). It is not clear how much these values derive from ubuntu and how much from the apartheid experience. What is clear is that the conflicts and suspicions are real, and teachers risk being seen as ANC operatives. The points of difference between policy and community are many (Mattson and Harley, 2003; Jansen 2003, Bhengu, 2004): banning of corporal punishment, allowing pregnant teenage girls to remain at school up to and after giving birth, involving parents in curriculum design, learner-centred approaches that advocate power sharing (in management and by contributing knowledge) and the questioning of authority (teachers' and communities' knowledge). Teachers have to tread carefully through these minefields, regardless of their personal beliefs and skills. Further, as Bhengu (2004) notes, many teachers are cynical of the government's intentions via its policies of devolution and participation (on the one hand) and performance appraisal and accountability (on the other hand). Teachers explain that by buying into the system, they not only become scapegoats for government failures; they become responsible for their own failures (against criteria set externally, and in spite of the conditions in which they work). Their insights echo Ball's (1994) analyses of the effects of England's National Curriculum on the professionalism of English teachers. While the IFP/ANC conflict is distinctive of regions of KwaZulu Natal, the complexities and suspicions it illustrates are widespread. Mattson and Harley (2003) and Jansen (2003) point similarly to contradictions arising in the government's images of the 'ideal teacher' and measures of teachers' accountability. The Norms and Standards of Teacher Education (Department of Education, 2000), define seven roles for teachers, consistent with devolution and learner-centred, outcomes-based education: mediator of learning, curriculum designer, manager, subject and/or phase (level of schooling) specialist, lifelong learner, citizen and pastoral carer. Each of these roles is elaborated through notions of practical competence, foundational competence and reflexive competence, articulated into a host of performance indicators. Thus on the one hand there is a vision of the moral, intellectual, creative, responsible professional working organically, intuitively and democratically; on the other hand there is the reductionist specification of performances as the basis of teacher assessment. Added to that are tensions

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between curriculum integration (across subject areas, and of school with everyday life) and structured discipline-based learning, between local and global curriculum definition, between education for economic development and for social equity. The demands and responsibilities are enormous—and all the more on teachers who have come from a history of bureaucratic, mechanistic, private, teacher/text centred delivery of syllabuses. Mattson and Harley (2003) argue that the solution teachers opt for is one that 'worked' in the colonial past: mimicry (which, they add wryly, is not too distant from mockery). Many teachers offer the trappings of the imposed roles: group-work, activity-based learning, attendance at School Governing Body meetings, written plans for school development, without embracing the spirit of the reforms. Jansen (2003) takes up questions of teachers' identity formation (in which there has been some exciting work in fields outside science education). Under apartheid, the prevailing image of the teacher was of an obedient civil servant who executed well-defined instructional tasks in terms of an official syllabus and a 'moderated' examination. While many teachers, of course, worked outside this image, it remains a powerful legacy. The Norms and Standards present a much more complex set of images, which impact on personal, professional and political dimensions of identity. Soudien (2003) offers case examples of how some teachers feel their identities have been shaped, and how they are responding to policy shifts. One of the powerful shaping experiences, for all teachers in his study, was the ideal offered (whether as example or counter-example) by teachers who had taught them; others included the characteristics and 'norms' of the schools in which they worked. The racialization of their experience must be added to this. The research reported here comes from outside science education as such. In science education, little work has been done to explore teachers' lives, their relationships with communities, the profession, education departments and policies, or notions of identity, identity formation and fluidity of identity. Science education research has provided information on what teachers do and don't do, especially in their classrooms, but little on why they do what they do. More is needed, especially as HIV/AIDS strikes more deeply into the workforce and social life. Policy and transformation The pace and extent of policy development over the last 15 years has been extraordinary, beginning in the 'government in waiting', and then the elected

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government. Education, and science and mathematics education in particular, were high on the agenda. With transformation urgent and hopes high, education researchers (almost all of whom had been politically active during the struggle) were keen to contribute. In the years preceding the first elections, academics (especially from policy research) took leading roles in establishing the National Education Policy Investigation (NEPI), in association with the National Education Co-ordinating Committee (NECC). The NEPI was ideologically committed to education for democratic participation, human rights and redress, but within the NECC, other positions were also strong, advocating priority to economic development, skills and accountability (Jansen, 1999, 2001; Aitchison, 2003; Kalloway et al.,1998). The work of the NECC and NEPI intersected with developments within the trade unions that were more advanced, influenced by education and training innovations in Australia (including key competencies, and arrangements for multi-skilling, life-long learning, and partnerships between government, workers and employers) and New Zealand (especially its National Qualifications Framework). Thus the school reforms became part of a larger framework. The settlement that was negotiated was for a unified national system of education and training managed through a National Qualifications Framework (NQF) and based in principles of outcomes-based education, learner-centred education, life-long learning, and devolution of curriculum according to national frameworks and standards. In these formative days, only a few science educators—such as Kahn (1995, 1996), Mphahlele (1993), Mphahlele & Kahn (1994), Mphahlele, Kahn & Levy (1993)—were writing about the issues. One of their frustrations was that science educators had failed to involve themselves strongly in Commissions established by the NECC to develop science education and conceptions of 'People's Education for People's Power', with the effect that a 'science vacuum' was created in the People's Education Movement, and science education opted for a (seemingly) less politicised, more technicist position. This was in spite of the wide acknowledgement that science and mathematics education are not only important in economic and social development, but were instruments of repression and exclusion in South Africa under apartheid. Since 1994, the nation has continued to debate vigorously whether to prioritize social development and redress, with economic development to follow (growth through redistribution), or to prioritize economic development with social development to follow (growth for redistribution). The former favours interventionist government and high social spending; the latter commends

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reduced government intervention, coupled with privatization, competition and trade liberalisation. The choices are profound, setting parameters for the roles and size of government, and the relationships between governments, bureaucracies, private enterprise and civil society (Oldfield, 2001). High social spending can improve education, health and infrastructure, leading to greater general optimism and broader participation in economic and social development, which might yield strong economic growth; privatization and competition can yield economic growth, but exacerbate inequities and, along with them, problems of capacity, poverty, despair, instability and crime (Aitchison, 2003, Motala, 2003, Oldfield, 2001). Add the HIV/AIDS pandemic. The government began with an emphasis on social development (the Reconstruction and Development Programme), but almost immediately shifted the balance towards privatization and monetary policies intent on reducing debt and inflation (the Growth, Employment and Redistribution policy). As a result of lower than expected economic growth the education budget decreased in real terms, and school fees, set largely by schools according to parents' capacity to pay, worked against poor schools, and to the advantage of rich schools. The tension, once again, is between concerns for equity on the one hand and for the rapid development of technical skills and efficiencies on the other hand. The task of the writers of the science curriculum documents (Curriculum 2005 in 1997, the National Curriculum Statement in 2001 and the Revised National Curriculum Statement in 2002), was immensely demanding, both intellectually and politically (Ramsuran & Malcolm, 2003, 2004). Successive versions had to fit different sets of overarching structures and principles, different views of the balance between central prescription and devolved responsibility, and new emphases in economic strategy. In each case, the teams had to negotiate science in relation to other learning issues; constructivism, behaviourism and critical pedagogy; localism and universalism; African and Western knowledge systems; discipline-based and context-based approaches; technicist, liberal and socially critical purposes. They also had to write to incredibly short time-lines—months, not years—and do so with wide consultation. In the 2002 version, the curriculum policy has three outcomes: science processes, science knowledge, and science/society. The processes and knowledge outcomes are generally similar to policies in other countries, such as Australia. The science/society outcome seeks to give the policy South African flavour, embracing equity, indigenous knowledge, the environment and economic development (Department of Education, 2002; Ramsuran & Malcolm, 2004). Thus the policy can be seen as re-

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contextualising science as defined in redeveloped countries, more than redefining science for South Africa. The new policies—especially in relation to teachers' roles, pedagogy and assessment—constituted such a shift from existing practices that questions were raised loudly about whether the government intended its policies to be anything more than symbolic (e.g., Jansen, 1999), and whether and how implementation could be achieved with any fidelity. As the second Minister of Education noted following his appointment in 1999: 'I was told by everyone I met that we have created a set of policies and laws in education and training that are at least equal to the best in the world... [Yet] the public believes that we have a crisis on our hands... The people of this country gave the national and provincial governments both a mandate and a responsibility to accelerate the delivery of basic services that will improve their quality of life. The people are entitled to a better education service, and they must have it.' (Prof. Kadar Asmal's 'Call to Action', July 27, 1999, quoted by Sayed and Jansen, 2001:1) Delivery was confounded, of course, by parallel demands to build schools and classrooms (especially in rural areas), re-educate teachers and school managers, extend physical infrastructure, create new and effective national, provincial and district administrations, deracialize schools, and maintain existing services. Science education researchers during the policy development phase (1990— 2002) wrote little about the emergent policies, purposes and emphases, concepts of progression, or the political and intellectual processes of policy development. However, researchers became highly active when implementation began (in 1998). Since then, almost all research (in school level studies and teacher education) is couched in the new curriculum policies, school-based curriculum development, and the demands on teachers. In this there are hints of faith in an RD&D approach to curriculum change: researchers take the policy as 'given' and normative, and focus on implementation. It is one thing to want research to make a difference, but quite another to decide what kind of difference to make, and to whom. Should the 'target' be the immediate teachers, students and communities that are 'being researched'? teachers more generally? text-book writers? newspapers and the general public? bureaucrats? policy makers? the research community? At deeper levels,

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what values (and whose values) should define the differences to be made, and to what extent should the options be discussed and analysed within the research community? When the driving values are taken directly from current policies and the research community, researchers run the risk of becoming instruments in the management of change consistent with current orthodoxies. Research can become subsumed into systemic requirements of negotiated settlements and measurable social outcomes. What then happens to the traditional role of the intellectual as an imaginative, probably solitary critic, forever questioning and theorising (Said, 1996)? As Anamuah-Mensah (2003) suggested, if researchers seriously want to make a difference to groups other than the research community, they need to communicate much more widely and in many other ways than through conference proceedings and research journals. There is little evidence that science education researchers in South Africa are using these other avenues. Kunene (2003), as Minister for Education in Swaziland and past director of the Southern African Development Corporation's Human Resources Development Sector was forthright in his address to the SAARMSTE conference of 2003: This the 11th meeting of SAARMSTE. Where is the research? What attempts has SAARMSTE made to see to its effective use?' In spite of his leadership positions, he knew nothing of SAARMSTE before the conference. The theme of the 2003 SAARMSTE conference was 'Improving co-operation among researchers, policy makers and implementers of policy'. It contains an assumption that research currently is not making much difference. This is not quite fair. While it may be true that South African researchers are not cited in policy documents or parliamentary discussions, the recent curriculum policies are highly consonant with research findings from overseas: social constructivism, critical theory, situated cognition, meta-cognition, problembased learning, problem-solving, context-based learning, learning through projects, computer-based learning, language and learning, code-switching, STS, philosophy of science, ways of knowing, indigenous knowledge, assessment as inference, assessment of complex performances, continuous formative assessment are all there, clearly discernible, and interpreted in a coherent framework. How did this come about? First, the writers themselves were well aware of the research literature and committed to the transformation agendas of inclusiveness, social and economic development (Ramsuran & Malcolm, 2004). Further, as Laugksch's (2003) bibliography and Kahn and Rollnick's (1992) review make clear, there was limited local research for writers to draw on at the time, so overseas research had to be the major research influence. Second, processes of consultation, though much less than originally envisaged,

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were extensive, and science education researchers (much more than teachers, especially teachers from rural areas) participated vigorously, bringing their research knowledge (again much of it generated overseas). Third, during the implementation period between the first version and the major review of it in 2000 (Chisholm, 2000) there was widespread discussion within the science education community, though only some of it published (e.g., Rogan et al., 2000, Sanders, 1999, Malcolm, 1999, 2000, 2001a). The rethinking included a significant provincial project to simplify and tighten the original concept (Rogan et al., 2000), and the reported experiences of schools, NGOs, text-book writers and education departments using the first version. Fourth, the writers drew on overseas documents that had in turn been influenced by science education research—especially the Australian Curriculum Profiles, whose underpinning ideology the South African writers saw as similar to that in South Africa (Ramsuran & Malcolm, 2004). While all of these processes fell short of ideal—due largely to time constraints—researchers who wished to be closely involved usually found ways to do so. Perhaps the concern from South African researchers should be not so much that science education research has had no influence in policy development and implementation, but that it has had too much: policy has raised particular theoretical ideas (such as constructivism, co-operative learning, context-based learning, STS and cognition theories) to self-affirming dogma. These same ideas have become the dominant theoretical frameworks for research, research that tends to focus on and identify the plethora of implementation problems. As we suggested earlier, it is time to go further, to look more deeply at 'causes'—such as the political dimensions of science education in South Africa, the structure and conditions of rural life, the nature and details of indigenous knowledge (and the prospect of new epistemologies for science and research), the questionable value of universalized conceptions of scientific literacy, the very structure of schools and the essential purposes of science education. That research would have a South African character which is often muted in the international literature. A shift in the interactions between policy-makers, researchers, schools and communities requires deeper reflections on conceptions of 'knowledge' and who defines 'useful' knowledge. Policy-makers want a particular kind of information: clean, clear and now. Research needs to offer, they feel (Ramsuran, 2003; Naidoo, 1998), statistical generalisability (preferably based in numbers), immediate policy relevance (a focus on implementation and visible results) and guidance on ways forward. This is one view of knowledge,

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from a particular perspective. As the Minister of Education exclaimed at one point: 'I'm not interested in post-modern analyses of my policies; I want to know what's happening in the name of my policies' (Asmal, 2001). If research choices follow this dictum too closely, all research becomes commissioned research. It is a trap that South African researchers already know. Khuzwayo (2004), for example, argues that during the apartheid years many educational researchers seemingly accepted the frameworks of Christian National Education and Fundamental Pedagogics, looking to improve implementation rather than critique the policies. Especially when research priorities, funding and the ranking of researchers become tied to government programmes and funding authorities, questions about the purpose and nature of knowledge and the criteria for 'good research' become critical. On the other hand, neither is it adequate to consider research only as 'basic knowledge', abstracted from context, distant from its applications, and responsible primarily to the community of researchers. These issues are, of course, world-wide (e.g., Towne et al., 2001). They take a particular hue in South Africa where the social and economic problems are so deep, and epistemologies of ubuntu are part of daily life for all but a few South Africans. Research that is locally contexted, directly concerned with social transformation and designed in view of policy makers, schools and their communities is different from traditional research, but it has also to avoid becoming subservient to government policies and constrained to instrumental purposes. Science education research in South Africa is only beginning to explore and push out these boundaries. HOW IS RESEARCH BEING DONE? Purposes, paradigms and epistemologies Kyle (2003) argues that the first step in research design should be to decide epistemology and broad purposes, not 'focus questions' and certainly not 'research tools'. As is clear from the earlier sections of this paper, we support this position. At the level of research tools, our review shows widespread use of the basic research tools—interviews, questionnaires, classroom observations and analyses of teachers', students' and text-book-writers' work. The great majority of studies use a combination of quantitative and qualitative tools. Thus similar tools are deployed to various purposes and theoretical frameworks. As we have observed earlier, many studies take place essentially in programme-evaluation frameworks—as needs analyses (identifying problems and priorities), inputs analyses (resources available), or, when linked to an intervention, process analyses (in classrooms and workshops) and outcomes analyses.

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When we turn to paradigms, for example using Guba and Lincoln's (1994) categories of positivist, post-positivist, interpretivist, socially critical and constructivist, classification is often difficult. One problem is the proliferation of paradigms (Lather, 2001): few researchers use 'purely' one paradigm or another. As an alternative, we have chosen Habermas's (1974) classification of purposes: whether technicist/instrumental, interpretivist, or socially critical/ transformative, and overlaid it with a distinction between deductive approaches (strongly guided by pre-determined hypotheses or concerns) and inductive approaches (grounded in the experience of the 'researched', where theories emerge from that experience). Even then, classification is problematic and treacherous: a technicist intervention can be a powerful input to social transformation, any theorizing is bound to use both inductive and deductive strategies, and the researcher's involvement in the research process—with his/her concerns, knowledge and prejudices—means that fully grounded research is impossible. This merely points to weaknesses in the nature of classification. As the physicist Feynman noted: 'If our small minds, for some convenience, divide this... universe into parts—physics, biology, geology, astronomy, psychology, and so on—remember that nature does not know it! So let us put it all back together...' (Feynman, quoted by McFarlane, 2002). In applying the Habermas (1974) classification, we find that the great majority of studies fall under the technicist and interpretivist headings. Two major issues arise. One is that the grounded or exploratory approaches turn out to be weak theoretically (where we are seeing 'theory' as a particular form of generalization and meaning that is deeper than description, even as it simplifies it). The second is the dominance of technicist/instrumental purposes, even when the research methods are ethnographic or participative. These also are often weak theoretically: from a different perspective but with similar result, they make wide use of existing theory in framing the research and interpreting the results, but struggle to generate theory—whether by extensions, critiques or replacement of existing theories. Exploratory approaches: confronting

complexity

Exploratory, inductive approaches are important in South Africa because so little knowledge exists of communities and schools: what do people in and around schools do, and why? What are the ethics, habits, knowledge, dreams, pressures and expectations that guide them? How do the interrelations work

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out and why? These questions go beyond behaviour and thoughts, to social structures, epistemology, history and hope. In South African, they cannot be separated from theories of colonization and post-colonialism on the one hand, and theories of individual self-determination on the other hand. Exploratory approaches very quickly confront complexity. In classrooms, for example, hunger, family support, culture, language, power-relations, role perceptions, available knowledge, resources, can all be influencing what is happening, perhaps more than the design of the particular activity in progress. Breen (2003) points to this in his distinction between 'complicated' and 'complex'. A complicated system, such as a computer, is hard to understand or fix, but understanding is possible by considering the system as the sum of its parts. A complex system, on the other hand, is not reducible or predictable in these ways. South African schools, communities and classrooms are complex. As one of the policy writers in Curriculum 2005 observed: 'In an African culture, artificial distinction between the social and the economic or between the economic and personal is non-existent. Such an artificial distinction was imposed through a systematic socialization of "separate education"... (Department Official, quoted by Ramsuran & Malcolm, 2004) In the face of complexity, exploratory approaches to research have often done well with description, uncovering 'facts' and 'problems', but struggled to find the deeper meanings and causes. To properly explore the complications is hard enough; the complexities are harder. In this our epistemology and imaginations are limited. Mathematics education researchers Vithal (1998) and Adler and Lerman (2003) illustrate complexities in the research process itself. In South Africa, the researcher might arrive at a school according to agreed plans and approvals, but find the teacher isn't there, or the students aren't there. Perhaps there is a 'cultural day' at a neighbouring school, a transport problem, a district workshop, a funeral; perhaps there was a rain-storm last night. Suppose the class is operating: the principal might have decided to substitute a different teacher (to share the benefits around the staff), or the teacher might have made no effort to plan the kind of lesson the researcher wanted to see. On the other hand, the researcher might have thought to set up interviews with the School Governing Body and community representatives at a later date, but finds action is immediate and the meetings are suddenly there, that very afternoon.

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Or she might have planned to give questionnaires to 50 students in Grade 11, but be greeted by the entire 200 enthusiastic to participate. Such experiences give important information about schools and complexity and are part of the research process, but, as Vithal (1998) notes, they are seldom theorized in the South African literature, hardly ever reported and usually put aside as mere frustrations. In writing for publication, researchers often impose a tidiness that hides complexity. Tecbnicist approaches We have pointed in every section of our review to a preference in South African science education research for technicist approaches to change and research, rather than socially/politically critical approaches. By technicist, we mean problem-solving that identifies a technical problem and seeks a technical solution. For example: 'The teachers in their classrooms display inaccurate content knowledge; let's give them some workshops on atomic theory and see what difference that makes'. More socially/politically critical approaches might ask: 'What are the structural and normative influences that shape teachers' knowledge and work, and how do they operate?' The debate between these options, in South Africa, is far from esoteric. It echoes debates about transformation through economic development before equity, or equity and participation before economic development; it echoes debates about social and economic structures that maximize individual opportunities, and structures that liberate groups. The point is that South Africa's 'liberation struggle' promised freedoms from oppression, as well as economic and social development. There is no question that South Africa needs to and wants to improve its technical knowledge and skills, and this involves technical solutions. However, a focus on technical problems—even at the whole school or system level—has yielded disappointing progress: we have cited earlier research related to teacher workshops and up-grade courses, new materials, individual, school and district level programmes that have yielded less than was hoped, even when they seemed successful: microscience kits are taken home from workshops but often not used; teachers work together to design modules but may not teach them; increased understandings of problem-based learning or group strategies are often not applied. So the technicist approach turns from behaviours and knowledge to 'attitudes', especially teachers' and students' attitudes. But the relationships between

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attitudes and actions are far from simple, especially while attitudes range from fairly readily identified surface positions through numerous layers into deep social and psychological positions. For example, studies of teacher attitudes seldom tap their suspicions that devolution is a way of governments passing to schools responsibility and blame for educational achievement (see our earlier discussion). Consistent with attitudes approaches, some studies have been done of individual teachers, schools and students who achieve extraordinary things, in spite of poverty around them (e.g. Malcolm, 2001b; Naidoo, 2003). These studies too have typically taken an interpretivist/technicist position, looking especially at ways in which school management, individual efforts and community involvement intersect. But they give no guidance on how such schools influence others or how such teachers influence teachers in other schools. It is insufficient—perhaps counterproductive—to point to their behaviours and exhort others to 'be like that', to compete with that. There is a side-effect too: reports of schools, teachers and students who succeed against the odds send a message that resources, infrastructure, and work/community conditions are less important than the heroic efforts of individuals and groups. Socially critical, participatory approaches Mathematics educators in South Africa have been much more inclined to socially critical and participatory approaches than have science educators. Vithal (2000), for example, offers a framework for rethinking research and curriculum. She does so with particular concerns for the ways in which researchers have and deploy power in their research and curriculum interventions. She argues that educational research designs inevitably involve an actual situation (that exists for communities and schools), a hypothetical situation (a process imagined on the basis of ideals, goals, policies and theories) and an arranged situation (to enact the hypothetical situation). She problematizes each of these and the relationships between them. For example, while grounded, interpretivist approaches might seek to describe the actual situation from local perspectives, their descriptions are often coloured by conceptions of the hypothetical situation: to ask teachers to explain their ideas of 'learner-centred education', while learner-centred education is government policy and the researcher's concern, implicitly imposes a yardstick on the actual situation; to consistently set aside teachers' frustrations at the banning of corporal punishment is to distort the actual situation. The actual situation contains perspectives, people and structures that are often conflicted and hard to divine. The hypothetical situation is just as complex, because it involves so many values and theories. Whose hypotheses should hold sway and how

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should alternatives be negotiated? For example, a hypothetical situation in which students, in groups and individually, move efficiently to predetermined cognitive outcomes is different from one in which students confront and tease out multiple perspectives with a view to intellectual inquiry and critique. Typically, the researcher plays a strong role in defining the hypothetical situation, assuming authority from government policies, his/her research knowledge and research focus. The arranged situation emerges from the actual and hypothetical situations, with all the limitations of imagination, interpretation, skills, structures and logistics that are involved. The researchers usually have major influence in designing the arranged situation—whether a curriculum process, or a research process. Yet the arranged situation, as a perturbation on the actual situation, might have (and might be hoped to have) effects long after the intervention is 'over'. From a technicist position, these issues can perhaps be shrugged off: the school participants consent (more or less) to the roles and needs of outside experts, and their own roles. From a socially-critical standpoint however the issues have to be addressed: if the curriculum concerns are for participation, emancipation and critical inquiry, then the entire research process has to express those values. Further, as has been noted earlier, communities and individuals in South Africa expect them to be addressed, as part of the liberation from apartheid. Vithal (2000) and Vithal and Valero (2003) present case examples that show how difficult the research process becomes, and how much it yet needs to be theorised. Adler and Lerman (2003)—also from Mathematics education—address similar issues from a perspective of ethics. As is common in discussions of ethical choices, they start from a hypothetical story (in many ways a composite rather than a fiction). A PhD student designs his research as part of his university experience, and finds a school that is keen to participate. He visits it and conducts workshops, and the teachers agree to implement his materials over the next months. He returns to find they have not, so his plans for data collection cannot work. Further, timetabling changes and exams mean that he cannot easily modify his plan. In this story, we see starkly the interactions and disjunctions between Vithal's (2000) actual, hypothetical and arranged situations, and between the curriculum and research domains of the research. Adler and Lerman (2003) propose different endings to the story, drawing out possible consequences for the researcher, the participants (at the school), the academy, and the public, and exploring the ethical dilemmas created. The researcher, the participants, the academy and the public all have stakes in the goals of the research, who the research is responsible to, and who owns it. Adler and Lerman (2003) elaborate their argument through three case studies,

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and demonstrate that the ethical questions are just as important in large scale 'objective' studies (TIMSS), small scale technicist/interpretivist studies (use of calculators) and collaborative, action-research studies (development of a teacher education programme). Participatory research, as one approach within the socially critical paradigm, attempts to have the participants (no longer divided into researcher and researched) set the research purposes, epistemology, methods and the nature of the outputs. Keane and Malcolm (2003) used participative methodologies to investigate meanings of relevant science in a poor rural village in KwaZulu Natal. The process provided rich data (Keane, Malcolm & Rollnick, 2003, 2004), but was difficult, bringing to the fore issues canvassed by Vithal (2000) and Adler and Lerman (2003). As a result of community choices, the research and education became embedded in community development, with the community's priority more for economic and social development than education and research. The research had outcomes beyond knowledge, and well beyond science education. Conceptions of validity extended from concerns for 'truth' to consequential and participative validity (Vithal, 2000; Lather 2001). Notions of participation (who participates and how decisions are made) were themselves problematic. For example, school students participated in the data collection, but not in the community meetings. Third, the agenda and priorities often shifted, sometimes threatening the research, even the whole project. Participation need not automatically lead to 'success'. In this, as Adler and Lerman (2003) anticipate, a significant pressure arose from the academy: the project might have been helping the community, but was it research? Was it science? Was it education? Was it appropriate work for researchers? Such issues need to be debated more vigorously within the research community. While they arose starkly in this project, they are part of all research.

CONCLUDING REMARKS What we have presented in this review is in many ways a journey, one in which there are many travellers. As in Chaucer's Canterbury tales, what seems to be a single journey is in fact many journeys—as many as there are travellers—and the different journeys have different destinations. We have told only our journey, though we appear to speak for others. Even then, as authors our two journeys are different: one of us is an old White Australian male who came to South Africa in 1997; the other is a young Black South African female, whose

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whole life has been here. (It is a wonderful mystery that two people could have such different backgrounds and yet perspectives and hopes sufficiently similar that writing together has been an adventure of excitement and affirmation as well as difference.) In framing the story, we depended on the following principles as guides: research has to be defined and enacted in context (or rather, contexts); it should aim to be transformative (with all the ambiguities, politics and rigour that are implied, for the range of participants); and technicist approaches are limited, needing to be balanced with searches for deeper understandings and meanings. These principles call for more creative theorizing of research than has happened so far in the science education community in South Africa; they call for re-examination of conceptualisations of research, purposes, epistemologies and taken-for-granted assumptions—even when (especially when?) those assumptions are widely shared. Perhaps the underlying theme in our story is our uneasiness with notions of insiders and outsiders—constructs whose effects (if not purposes) are often to include and exclude. The issue surfaces in many places: between researcher and researched, research and development, Black and White, African and Western, urban and rural; the science-education community and other-thanscience communities; the international science education community and the local one; technicists and critical theorists... Taking our cue from the young African students who seemed to have little problem with 'border crossing'— even enjoy it—when the politics of the classroom and curriculum encourage it, and from Feynman's reminder that borders and categories are no more than heuristics to help us think, we have roamed across borders. For example, we found it impossible to provide a meaningful picture of science education research in South Africa from the science education literature alone. Our excursions into policy research, cultural anthropology, mathematics education, rural education, language research, curriculum research and teacher education research not only presented a richer description, but uncovered research frameworks and methodologies that have been little used in 'standard' science education research. They provide ways forward. The complexities of South Africa are at once sources of frustration, and sources of inspiration, and the urgency for change only adds to their cogency. Here there is no 'one right answer', no definitive conclusion, on any but the narrowest of research agendas.

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Contact details: Prof. Cliff Malcolm Faculty of Education University of KwaZulu Natal P/bag X54001 Durban South Africa [email protected]