14 SES 13, Funds of Knowledge Research for the Future: International examples and educational possibilities
In this symposium, we present three examples of intentional and strengths-based research designed to identify and develop the funds of knowledge (Moll, Amanti, Neff, and Gonzalez, 1992; Gonzalez, Moll, & Amanti, 2005) operating in families and communities. Each researcher focuses on a community that has been historically underserved in schools. While the construct of funds of knowledge has been recognized as essential when working with historically underserved communities, there are relatively few concrete examples of how researchers and teachers can work together to use funds to improve classroom instruction. Specifically, we ask, how children’s funds of knowledge might become visible and helpful to teachers in diverse literacy classrooms?
- Funds of Knowledge, Families, and Communities
Moll, Amanti, Neff, and Gonzalez (1992) describe their work with Mexican heritage families living near the Mexican-USA border. They present borderland experiences as predicated on the generational experience of living on the border while treating differences as strengths that reveal the “complex functions of households” (p. 132). Their self-ascribed purpose is to develop educational innovations that:
. . .draw upon the knowledge and skills found in local households. Our claim is that by capitalizing on household and other community resources, we can organize classroom-instruction that far exceeds in quality in the rote-like instruction these children commonly encounter in schools. (p. 132)
The authors examine ongoing teacher/researcher collaborations designed to develop classroom practices that reflect the funds of knowledge that operating in Mexican American community. The teachers participated in a series of workshops focused on qualitative research methods. Their stated goal was to “explore teacher-researcher collaborations in conducting household research and in using this information to develop classroom practices” (p. 135). A key dimension is the degree of reflexivity on the part of the teacher-researchers. One teacher reported “going into the home, taking off your lens for a moment, trying to step outside your assumptions” (p. 137).
While each of the three papers presented in this symposium reflect a different part of the world, involve very different communities, and reference different funds of knowledge, the researchers share a commitment to educating children who have been historically underserved in schools. In each school community, researchers needed to learn about the local community. This involved careful listening, long-term commitments, and an ongoing self-reflection. In each case, researchers relied on children, families, and community members to provide critical information and pose difficult questions. Overtime, these collaborations have revealed critical insights that have been shared with local educators and translated into responsive literacy teaching practices that honor the strengths and literacy practices of families and communities.
Gonzalez, N., Moll, L. C., & Amanti, C. (2005). Funds of knowledge: Theorizing practices in households, communities, and classrooms. New York: Teachers College Press. Moll, L. C., Amanti, C., Neff, D., & Gonzalez, N. (1992). Funds of knowledge for teaching: Using a qualitative approach to connect homes and classrooms. Theory into Practice, 31(1), 132-41.
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