Patterns in Caribbean science-related cultural beliefs which may affect learning in school science

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Aug. 1989

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The meanings of the terms "science" and "cultural beliefs" as used in the article are clarified--science refers to conventional Western science, on which school science in the Caribbean is based; the cultural beliefs addressed refer to a subset of the full range that exists in the society, and include only those customs and beliefs that deal with the same content areas that are dealt with in conventional science, but which sometimes offer different explanations to those offered in conventional science. A sample of 236 street science beliefs and sayings has been documented from a variety of sources. These have been chiefly oral because of the nature of the task--small farmers, elderly citizens, medical personnel, graduate researchers in the area of bush medicines, and Creole and oral traditions, as well as school-children and their parents were consulted. Of the total sample, which came from Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, approximately one-third of the beliefs are common to both territories. Many others, though using different words illustrate similar principles. It is realized that the sample is not exhaustive, but the patterns illustrated by its analysis are instructive


An earlier version of this paper was presented at the CARIERA/UWI/Bristol Conference on Culture, Language and Thinking

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