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Whose Names are in Science Textbooks? Justifying the Need for Critical Pedagogy in Tanzania Science Classrooms

Mjege Kinyota,, Patrick S. Kavenuke


Textbooks are the most important teaching and learning resources in education in most developing countries, including Tanzania. However, researchers in education have tended to ignore critical issues related to textbooks. For example, while Africa, as a continent, has contributed a lot to the development of science and technology, it is unfortunate that African scientists and their achievements do not feature in science textbooks used in African schools. This paper seeks to explore critical aspects in science textbooks that are often taken for granted, such as names of scientists cited in those textbooks. Additionally, the question of what are the stereotypes and the hidden messages that students in developing countries learn when science textbooks are full of white male Western scientists’ names was considered pertinent for this study. We argue that such biased naming in science textbooks sends negative messages and stereotypes to students on what counts as legitimate science knowledge. We also argue that the messages, in turn, limit students’ creativity and affect their identities as science knowledge producers and owners. The situation may be worse for non-white female students from developing countries. We recommend that teachers should use critical pedagogy in science classrooms so that issues related to the nature of science and the historical development of scientific knowledge are critically questioned, analysed and discussed. Given the limited time due to the pressure of national examinations, we also recommend teachers to use information and communication technologies (ICT) to facilitate critical pedagogy. Lastly, we call for the integration of indigenous scientific knowledge in science curriculum in Tanzania.


critical pedagogy, hidden curriculum, science textbooks, scientific knowledge, Tanzania

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