Children's stories: what knowledge constitutes indigenous knowledge?

  • M Stears
Keywords: Curriculum, cultural background, learner, science module, socioeconomic,


Curriculum 2005 (DoE, 1995) foregrounds indigenous knowledge systems as one of the themes that should be integrated across the curriculum. There is a move towards designing curricula that consider learners' cultural backgrounds, hence the emphasis on incorporating informal knowledge in the curriculum. This article reports on the nature of the knowledge produced by children when applying such an approach, thus raising questions around the nature of indigenous knowledge. The intention was to design a science module on a topic that learners identified as relevant. The method employed was to ask learners to write stories on the topic in an effort to determine what indigenous knowledge held with regard to the topic. While the stories contained examples of indigenous knowledge, the majority of experiences learners identified with was not indigenous knowledge in the traditional sense, but knowledge related to their personal circumstances. This raises the question whether poor socio-economic conditions lead to the erosion of indigenous knowledge held by the parents and grandparents of these children or whether the subculture of poverty has produced a new kind of indigenous knowledge?

Keywords: Curriculum, cultural background, learner, science module, socioeconomic, indigenous knowledge, children's stories

Indilinga Vol. 7 (2) 2008: pp. 132-140

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eISSN: 1683-0296