Through this column we’ve seen how classroom activities, informal science activities and drawing can engage students and make learning about plants more interesting. Today we learn how teaching culturally responsive botany can also make plants relevant to students’ lives.
This past Fall, professors Lauren Madden and Arti Joshi published What Does Culture Have To Do With Teaching Science?, an article about teaching the plant sciences from a cultural perspective. They focus specifically on the cultural beliefs and experiences of Asian Indians, the third largest group of immigrants in the US (Madden & Joshi, 2013).
Madden and Joshi (2013) provide information about Hindu beliefs about plants and explain how these beliefs can contribute to children’s prior knowledge about plants and how they grow. They encourage teachers to become familiar with the cultural experiences students bring with them into the classroom and to weave these experiences into their lesson plans.
Madden and Joshi (2012) present five strategies teachers can implement to introduce culturally responsive activities into their classrooms. They include asking parents about the plants they have at home, gathering stories about folk biology and using these stories to create literary connections to plants, and using interactive science notebooks that students and parents work on together.
The authors include links to relevant sections of the Next Generation Science Standards in their article, as well as Web resources and related children’s literature. To learn more about culturally responsive teaching in the plant sciences, buy a copy of Madden and Joshi (2013) online for 99¢.
Do you incorporate culturally responsive teaching techniques in your classroom or environmental education program?
Share your experiences below.
Madden, Lauren and Arti Joshi. 2013. What does culture have to do with teaching science? Science and Children. 51(1): 66-69