I’d like you to explore the enculturation issue a little more because, in my experience, it connects our thinking to bigger picture possibilities for considering the efficacy of Cvsm for shaping teaching and learning.

1. Pluralism. What is Aikenhead’s argument about the shortcomings of the Social Cvst metaphor of ‘learning as enculturation’? Include in your response explanations of the alternative concepts of multiscience, acculturation, border crossing and concept proliferation. How does Aikenhead’s perspective compare with the Driver et al. pluralist notion of “conceptual profile”?

Aikenhead purpose the idea of pluralism in learning science which relates to interaction between different cultures of students and science itself (which represent as western science. School science should consider pluralistic of cultural perspective to be served in teaching and learning, so the silent voiced from other cultures will be heard. Since the science classroom is subculture from the school culture, students will face different culture experiences, such as culture of their own experiences (daily lives) and culture of the science itself (the multiscience). Therefore, learning should recognize this border crossing of culture experiences by the students. Then, the successful learning experiences will be the negotiating process between those cultures. Again, teacher’s role is important as “a culture broker” to introduce the culture borders, guide students to back and forth the border (I just remember the equilibrium concept in chemistryJ), help students to making sense of those different cultures, and motivate them to look at the contributions of “western science” in their lives.

Furthermore, enculturation in science classroom need to consider two perspectives: on students’ learning and political dimension. Aikenhead points out students’ learning stage into swallow, in-depth meaning making, and a cultural phenomenon itself. I consider these stages as hierarchy learning process which reminds me on Habermas three interests on technical, practical, and critical which are influenced by individual’s framework. In this stage, teachers play important role to engage students into each step. Teachers who only focus on students’ achievement to pass the assessments (Fatima’s Rules) and curriculum as a subject matter will result on students’ swallow learning. On the other hand, according to Solomon (1987) as cited in Aikenhead (2000), meaning making learning should include social constructivist of knowledge. As the term of social constructivism before, it will focus on students’ engagement in the enculturation process of their own science culture with western science (only). Move on to the next stage of learning as a cultural phenomenon, students will have opportunity to engage with multicultural of science, not only western science to understand themselves from their own culture. Even though process enculturation is similar with social constructivism by Driver et al in term of using everyday language, this perspective is different in term of placing the western science as a subculture itself, not as a main/focus of science culture. Social constructivist perspectives also recognize learners as anthropologists who have experience crossing over between everyday culture and science culture (Duit & Treagust, 1998), but the science culture is the western science itself. Driver et. al also points out teachers’ role as mediator to guide students within their everyday language and science world, but the science world itself is “western science”. Therefore, using language becomes important activity in enculturation learning process (Garrison, 1995). The problem is successful learning experiences only happened on the students who have identities and ability to harmonize their own culture (their everyday language) with the western science or have experience smoothly transition of their border crossing. Therefore, concept of proliferation seems to fail to uncultured the students, even the social constructivists’ teacher. On this perspective, Aikenhead proposes different idea of enculturation through the pluralistic of science in school/classroom to engage students throughout their own identity which recognize the equity for all students. Moreover, according to Holland (2000), cultural process must be highly dynamic and ever changing because the nature of minds and self states itself, moreover, it also involves personal meanings and subjectivity. Therefore, including culture into science will help teachers to engage students’ into their personal world

Furthermore, Ogawa’s multiscience doesn’t reject the western science, but involve learning within students’ own context (their own culture). However, some teachers and students are uncomfortable with this multiscience curriculum because they need to negotiate the border crossing between “science” and others. In addition, in multiscience students will have different experiences of border crossing different types of science which lead their understanding of : (1) their own biological and physical world, (2) their community, (3) another culture’s ways, (4). Norms, beliefs, values, and conventions of western science. On this process, students could free to take the science that makes sense to them which is called acculturation which individual take the features of other cultures. This acculturation process could empower students to participate in the community because they are aware of the border crossing of each science which is different from the concept of proliferation. Moreover, the notion of concept profile by Driver et al. provide opportunity for the learners to have plural conceptual schemes which appropriate for the specific social settings. However, when it is not appropriate or not making sense, the notion of replacement will be happened. On the other hand, Aitkenhead proposes the pluralistic which the new concept can be added to student’s conceptual profile and “old” concept which is the commonsense knowledge is still part of individuals’ conceptual profile. This process will give opportunities for students to have different perspectives which allow them to recognize the differences. Learning in this way will be challenging for them. However, some students and teachers who resistance with the changes will prefer to stay on the environment which Famita’s rules applied or the western science becomes the privileged science culture. As the result, learning as a cultural phenomenon which s proposed by Aitkenhead will be not powerful. Moreover, the stakeholders also need to be considered as a dominant power, so, the school science innovators must renegotiate their science culture. Finally, pluralism in science culture should be recognized and applied in the classroom to help students to engage with their learning within their own identity. However, negotiating the science content both from rational criteria and political power by stakeholders need to be considered.

2. Referent. A powerful way of avoiding the trap of seeing Cvsm as ideology (which is the case for both uncritical advocates and naive critics– there are many of both!) is to understand it as a referent. What do Tobin & Tippins (seem to) mean when they advocate considering Cvsm as a referent…and as a reflective tool? (Recall the ‘indirect’ argument in the previous Topic). Does it make good sense to talk about a ‘Constructivist learning environment’? (the survey instrument used in this online unit is called the Constructivist Online Learning Environment Survey’).

Tobin and Tippins propose the notion of constructivism as referent which is developed by Wheatley (1991). Wheatley described the approach of constructivism as referent or as known as problem-centre learning which allow students to construct their own meaning then negotiating socially in the classroom. Teachers’ role is to monitor students’ understanding and guide their point of views by elaborating, justifying, and evaluating. Furthermore, Tobin and Tippins prefer to apply constructivism as a referent to analyze learning potential in different situation, even on the teacher-centre or big classes. The important is learning should recognize the social process of meaning making of students’ experiences. Therefore, for improving learning, teachers should consider four elements: social process, making sense, experience, and extant knowledge). These four elements could be applied in any learning environments, however (again), it depends on the teachers to create the environment which support this learning experiences happened for their students. In addition, considering constructivism as a referent will help educators to deal with different way of thinking about education’s problem as well as solutions.

Moreover, constructivism may not usual consider as a referent, since constructivism is well known as a method of teaching and learning. Applying constructivism as a referent allows teachers to deal with the teacher-centered and bigger classes which are used to consider as the constrained conditions In addition, constructivism as a referent will need teachers’ creativity and critical thinking to analyze the best approaches of constructivism which could engage students within their own (constrained) conditions/context. The other problem (again), the resistance could be happened on the teachers and students who don’t want to change their framework, and choose to stay on their comfortable zone such as “only” apply traditional way of teaching and learning. Moreover, according Windschitl (2002), teachers face different types of dilemmas to apply constructivism, which are conceptual, pedagogical, cultural, and political dilemmas. These four dilemmas could cause the resistance for teacher to apply the constructivism, because they need to understand about the philosophy of constructivism, re-designing the learning experiences, teacher-students’ relationship, and resistance from the stakeholders. Therefore, applying constructivism need shifting paradigms from teachers’ and students’.

As a result, constructivism as a referent can be solutions for the problems on curriculum, assessments and research in education. Constructivism as a referent provides leaners to control their own learning and empower teachers to think about curriculum reform. On assessment, teachers could think about assessment as students’ motivator, assessment as “the window” of students’ knowing. As a result, different approaches of assessments can be applied in the classroom. Moreover, in research of education, the role of researcher “is to make personal sense of experience and, in socially mediate way, to build the knowledge”. As result, personal voice and experiences become important data for the research for improving education process.

In addition, constructivism as reflective tool could be used by the teachers to analyze their own teaching context in order to creating the learning process which is more engaging and productive for their students. As a result, these opportunities will give room for teachers to design the learning process for their students within their own context through a constructivist perspective which could lead to teachers’ empowerment. Therefore, even though within the big class, each student could have their own learning experience which is engaging because related to their own experiences. In addition, constructivism as a reflective tool will stimulate teachers as learners who have learning and teaching experience and give personal meaning of their experience through reflection.

Tobin and Tippins identify several basic principles of constructivism as guiding for science teachers to apply constructivism in any situations. Learners have opportunities to making sense of science through “an existing conceptual structure” which involves dialectical process both content and process. According to Fox (2001), science as a knowledge largely based on the social construction, but individuals may find their own science knowledge through their own experiences. However, for making sense of individuals’ experience, the role of language and representation is important, since human minds are shaped by language. Therefore, representation of science in the classroom is important to engage students into their learning. Teachers’ role as mediators in learning involves two critical components which are monitoring students’ learning and providing constraint to guide students’ thinking into productive directions. It doesn’t mean students don’t have opportunities to explore their understanding, but the constraint will help students to have depth-understanding and engaging on certain concept of knowledge. Moreover, teachers have to make sure that all students have equal opportunities for their own learning. Therefore, understanding character of each student’s learning is important to provide “solid base” learning for understanding.

Furthermore, the idea of constructivist learning environment questionnaire could be apply as a tool to provide the ideas of students’ thinking about their learning environment. It makes sense, because teachers’ views on their classroom may be different from students’ views. Teachers could believe that they already apply the constructivism and give opportunities for students to engage with their thinking. However, students could have different views such as the strategies are meaningless for them. Therefore, I think this instrument could be used as a tool to help teachers to reflect on their constructivism teaching. However, depth-observation needs to be applied to get the detailed and rich information of students’ view on their learning experiences.

3. Myths. Another powerful way of understanding the dynamics of enculturation (especially in school science and maths) is in terms of the anthropological concept of ‘mythology’. In this rather polemical paper (I’m softer these days!), what does Taylor mean by the myths of hard control and cold reason, and why might Cvst metaphors of ‘learning as conceptual change’ and ‘learning as enculturation’ be ‘swallowed up’ by them? What are the key features of Critical Cvsm that might help science teachers resist the ‘siren call’ of these myths?

Taylor refers to the myth of cold reason and hard control which mostly applied in teaching and learning science (my own experienceJ). He points out, there are two conditions which lead to the cold reason happened in the classroom, the absence of: (1) sense of socio-cultural (2) uncertainty of knowledge. Therefore, the pedagogical implications of this myth will lead to the belief of certainty in the knowledge. Furthermore, the myth of cold reason is considered as the other powerful objectivist myth since, it concerns on the idea of certainty of knowledge and finding the absolute truth. As a result, students must have the correct answers for problems. In addition, teachers who hold this myth will only focus on the students’ achievement, since it consider as the goal of “successful” learning and teaching process. As a result, math or science as a subject matter used to be considered as the knowledge outside the world which is not applicable, then if those knowledge are applicable, but it’s not making sense for the students. If this myth is shaped learning process in the classroom, the relevance of knowledge with the outside world will be consider as the “extra issues”, not as potentially motivating solutions for engaging the students. Therefore, the myth of cold reason restraints the enculturation process in the classroom, because there are no opportunities for students to construct or make sense of their own culture identity. Moreover, within the conceptual change learning approach, it becomes a problem because the learning process considers as transfer and replicate the knowledge. Even though, teachers try to guide students’ prior knowledge into the acceptance knowledge, the decontextualised of knowledge becomes border of this process. Moreover, conceptual change approaches also criticize as lack of socio-cultural and socio-emotional by learner (Berger & Luckman , 1966), and “ a model of cold and isolated cognition” (Posner et al.). As a result, science, math, or other knowledge becomes separate from learners’ world. Moreover, the myth of hard control is influenced by teachers’ role as curriculum deliver which seems to have “absolute” power to control the classroom which will lead to students as passive learners. Students would have less opportunity to express their voice and less power to determine their own learning. Learning becomes culture reproducing rather than challenges of students’ knowledge.

Critical constructivism is proposed by the author to deal with these myths. The concept is integration of “Habermas’s theory of knowledge and human interest, and theory of communicative action, and aims to reconstruct the culture of social setting. Consider the critical constructivism will provide opportunities for open and critical discourse in the classroom which lead to students’ self-critical reflection. Teachers should act communicatively within their “moral accountability for the intellectual, emotional, and social welfare for the students”. In other words, teachers play important role to create the learning environment which respect to students’ view, mutual trust, and good will. Becoming a teacher who has communicatively competent will empower teachers to renegotiate with technical interest both on teaching practice in the classroom and teaching profession. The implications of the communicative action in the classroom will help students to feel free to express their ideas without feel under pressure of teachers’ power. Moreover, critical discourse also allow the collaboration between teacher and students to control the learning environment in the classroom.


Aikenhead, G.S. (2000). Renegotiating the culture of school science. In R. Millar, J. Leach, & J. Osborne, Improving science education: The contribution of research (pp. 245-264). UK: Open University Press.

Duit, R. & Treagust, D.F. , (1998). Learning in science-from behaviorism towards social constructivism beyond. In B.J. Fraser, & K.G. Tobin (Eds.), International handbook of science education, (pp 3-25). Britain: Kluwer Academic Publisher.

Fox, R. (2001). Constructivism examined. Oxford Review of Education, 27(1), 23-35.

Garrison, J. (1995). Deweyan pragmatism and the epistemology of contemporary social constructivism. American Educational Research Journal, 32(4), 716-740.

Hollan, D. (2000). Constructivist models of mind, contemporary psychoanalysis, and the development of culture. American Anthropologist, New Series, 102(3), 538-550.

Taylor, P.C. (1996). Mythmaking and mythbreaking in the mathematics claasroom. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 31(1,2), 151-173.

Tobin, K. & Tippins, D. (1993). Constructivism s a referent for teaching and learning. In K. Tobin (Ed.), The Practice of Constructivism in Science Education (pp.3-21). Washigton: AAAS Press.

Windschitl, M. (2002). Framing constructivism in practice as the negotiation of dilemmas: an analysis of the conceptual, pedagogical, cultural, and political challenges facing teachers. Review of Educational Research, 72( 2), 131-175.

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