Transformative pedagogy: Dinka playgroups as spaces for cultural knowledge productions of Western science

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As increasing numbers of families migrate from a range of countries into communities where Western science is viewed as valued curriculum content, a need for understanding the cultural nature of teaching Western science has become more urgent. The study reported in this paper sought to investigate pedagogical responses to everyday and scientific learning of pre-school children from a group of Dinka (South Sudanese) families now living in a large Australian city. Adopting a cultural-historical methodology, we analyzed 42 h of digital video observations of 34 children, one teacher and 22 parents during their participation in a regular play group in their community. We identified four pedagogical approaches being used to support children’s learning. The videos capture how the use of observational pedagogy, physically helping pedagogy [in the spirit of Barbra Rogoff’s (Hum Dev 57:69–81, 2014. “pitching in”], verbally helping pedagogy, and embedded scientific narratives, supported new forms of cultural knowledge production by the children. The study suggests that together these relational dimensions of the pedagogy in the playgroup are “transformative” because they support genuine access and participation to other forms of cultural knowledge, such as Western science.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1045-1069
Number of pages25
JournalCultural Studies of Science Education
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Cultural-historical
  • Culturally sensitive teaching
  • Dinka
  • Everyday concepts
  • Family pedagogy
  • Western science

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