07 SES 03 C, Belonging, Funds of Knowledge, Identities
In the Netherlands, as well as in other countries, many students experience a gap between the knowledge they learn at home and in school (Banks 1993; Cockrell et al. 1993). Teachers, on the other hand, who have a different cultural and social background than their students, do not always recognize the knowledge and skills that students already have. This discontinuity between school and home can mean that, in particular children with an ethnic minority or lower social economical background, can lose their interest in school and perform below their abilities (Bronkhorst & Akkerman 2016; Lee 2001; Vedder et al. 2006).
While many theories about discontinuity between home and school emphasize students’ shortcomings, the theory of funds of knowledge focuses on students’ competences; students acquire skills and knowledge outside of school, for instance in their family and community, but also in peer groups and through social media and the internet (Moje et al. 2004). Research shows that students feel more involved at school and perform better, when their competences instead of their shortcomings are addressed (Gonzáles et al. 2005). Funds of knowledge theory is concerned with how teachers can decrease the gap between school and home by drawing on students’ knowledge, skills and strengths to support academic learning (Gonzáles et al. 2005; Hogg 2011; Moll & Gonzáles 2004). The use of funds of knowledge in the classroom can also contribute to improving the relationship between students and teachers (Barton & Tan 2009; Irvine 2003; McIntyre et al. 2001).
In the literature several examples can be found where funds of knowledge are used to relate the curriculum to students’ life (e.g. Andrew & Yee 2006; Ares & Buendia 2007; Gonzáles et al. 2005; Hogg 2015, 2016). For instance, Moll et al. (1992) describe how during a project about Mexican food, a mother comes to make candies in the classroom and talk with students about American and Mexican eating habits.
Often, the students’ funds of knowledge are found through ethnographical research in the students’ family or community, and in most examples the school is composed of students from two cultural communities (Gonzáles et al., 1995; Hedges et al. 2011). However, there are barely any examples of how funds of knowledge can be found in schools where students are from several cultural communities, as is often the case in Dutch cities. In the literature, drawing on students’ funds of knowledge is mainly done with a view to better learning (outcomes). A preliminary research with participating schools in Amsterdam revealed that they would like to find out in which other ways than ethnographical research, funds of knowledge in the Dutch context can be found, and how they can be used in the classroom to have a positive impact on student’s social and personal development. For instance, in the preliminary research teachers named possible effects of using funds of knowledge in the social and personal domain such as students from different backgrounds getting to know each other better, an increased cohesion in the class, students getting a broader perspective, and individual students feeling more at ease in the classroom.
Therefore, our research question is as following: How can teachers in primary schools use their students’ funds of knowledge in such a way that this contributes to the social and personal development of students.
Currently twelve primary school teachers with their pupils actively participate in this research, of whom seven are working with pupils aged 9-12 years old and five with pupils aged 4-9. Eleven other classes (pupils 9-12 years) from four schools participate in the study as control group. The project consisted of 3 phases. The first phase includes the gathering of good practices from the actively participating teachers and their network. Also a pre-measurement was conducted in the classes of all teachers from the higher grades through questionnaires. The questionnaire consists of (sub)scales from existing and validated questionnaires which measure social and personal development (Driessen et al. 2009), as well as citizenship attitudes and skills (Dam et al. 2010) and it allows to map students’ social network (Stark 2011) to get information about the integration of individual students and the social cohesion in the classroom. The second phase is composed of two cycles, each lasting about eight weeks. For each cycle teachers make a plan for how they intend to find and use funds of knowledge of students and they reflect on the application of their plan in at least four times in a pre-structured logbook. Before and during this phase teachers attend meetings where they discuss their choice of funds of knowledge, share ideas and experiences and relate these to the literature. At the end of each cycle, every teacher is interviewed. In the third phase, the questionnaire will be administered again to all the students, including those from the control schools. In addition, a group of about five students from each class of which the teacher actively worked with students’ funds of knowledge will be interviewed. A final interview with the participating teachers will be done, too. Finally, the qualitative and quantitative data will be analyzed in order to determine effects on students’ social and personal development, teachers, and the group of students, and to find mechanisms that could explain why the use of funds of knowledge does or does not have the expected results.
It is expected that drawing on students’ funds of knowledge in the classroom positively affects the students individually and as a group. It is expected to allow them to increase their knowledge about themselves and their peers, which could result in more cohesion in the class; to get a broader perspective and learn to be open for differences; and to increase their well-being and self-confidence. Also positive effects on the parent-teacher relationship may occur. At the teacher level, this research is expected to contribute to the professionalization of the participating teachers; they gain insight in how funds of knowledge theory can be used to (positively) affect students’ social and personal development. In addition, this research will contribute to the theory of funds of knowledge, by getting new scientific insights on what current, relevant students’ funds of knowledge are such as the internet and street culture, and how they can be found and used.
Andrews, J., & Yee, W. C. (2006). Children's ‘funds of knowledge’ and their real life activities: Two minority ethnic children learning in out‐of‐school contexts in the UK. Educational Review, 58(4), 435-449. Barton, A. C., & Tan, E. (2009). Funds of knowledge and discourses and hybrid space. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 46(1), 50-73. Biesta, G. (2011). Het beeld van de leraar: Over wijsheid en virtuositeit in onderwijs en onderwijzen. Tijdschrift voor Lerarenopleiders, 32(3), 4-11. Biesta, G. (2012). Goed onderwijs en de cultuur van het meten. Den Haag: Boom Lemma. Cockrell, K. S., Placier, P. L., Cockrell, D. H., & Middleton, J. N. (1999). Coming to terms with "diversity" and "multiculturalism" in teacher education: Learning about our students, changing our practice. Teaching and Teacher Education, 15, 351-366. Dam ten G., Geijsel F., Reumerman R. & Ledoux G. (2010). Burgerschapscompetenties: de ontwikkeling van een meetinstrument. Pedagogische Studiën, 87, 313-333. Driessen, G., Mulder, L., Ledoux, G., Roeleveld, J., & van der Veen, H. (2009). Cohortonderzoek COOL 5-18 technisch rapport basisonderwijs, eerste meting 2007/08. Nijmegen/Amsterdam: ITS/Kohnstamm Instituut. González, N., Moll, L. C., & Amanti, C. (2005). Funds of Knowledge: Theorizing Practices in Households, Communities, and Classrooms. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers. Hedges, H., Cullen, J., & Jordan, B. (2011). Early years curriculum: Funds of knowledge as a conceptual framework for children’s interests. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 43(2), 185-205. Hogg, L. (2011). Funds of knowledge: An investigation of coherence within the literature. Teaching and Teacher Education, 27(3), 666-677. Lee, C. D. (2001). Is October Brown Chinese? A cultural modeling activity system for underachieving students. American Educational Research Journal, 38(1), 97-141. Moll, L., Amanti, C., Neff, D., & González, N. (1992). Funds of knowledge for teaching: Using a qualitative approach to connect homes and classrooms. Theory into Practice, 31(2), 132-141. Moje, E. B., Ciechanowski, K. M., Kramer, K., Ellis, L., Carrillo, R., & Collazo, T. (2004). Working toward third space in content area literacy: An examination of everyday funds of knowledge and discourse. Reading Research Quarterly, 39(1), 38-70. Stark, Tobias H. (2011). Integration in Schools. A Process Perspective on Students’ Interethnic Attitudes and Interpersonal Relationships. Groningen: ICS Dissertation. Vedder, P., Horenczyk, G., Liebkind, K., & Nickmans, G. (2006). Ethno-culturally diverse education settings; problems, challenges and solutions. Educational Research Review, 1(2), 157-168. Volman, M. (2012). Gebruikmaken van verborgen kennis van leerlingen. Zone, 11(4), 6-9.
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