|Funds of Knowledge
Dr Sabine Little
University of Sheffield, UK
These didactic materials are linked to the Essay on “Funds of Knowledge”, intended to provide practical examples and ideas for exploration in the classroom. Certain amounts of text may be repeated for the sake of coherence.
Funds of Knowledge
The concept of funds of knowledge acknowledges the potential associated with knowledge that arises from pupils’ active participation in multi-generational household and/or community activities. Pupils do not arrive in the classroom as blank slates, and they do not arrive with only their prior school learning. Funds of knowledge theory argues that ‘instruction should be linked to students’ lives, and the details of effective pedagogy should be linked to local histories and community contexts’ (Gonzalez, Moll and Amanti, 2005, p. ix). Households are ‘repositories of knowledge’ (Gonzalez, 2005, p. 26), and these forms of knowledge can be transferred to school contexts, thus affording opportunities to bridge the space between pupils’ lifeworlds and school.
Integrating Funds of Knowledge
When it comes to integrating Funds of Knowledge, it is important to understand that not all children, even at an early age, may already be aware of certain differences, and not all children will enjoy being singled out for being ‘different’. Teaching through a funds of knowledge approach is more involved than celebrating diversity in the classroom, and, in fact, Grace (2008) warns that through simply ‘celebrating cultural differences, stereotypes may actually be reinforced rather than diminished’ (Grace 2008, p. 137). Funds of knowledge are represented in everything – the television programmes a child watches, the books read, the countries travelled to, the way in which family is regarded and interconnected, the food eaten. A new computer game or film coming out is a useful example of how Funds of Knowledge may integrate into children’s play, with those who have seen (or played) it becoming natural authorities on the topic at hand.
For a teacher, it is important to understand what Funds of Knowledge are present among children in the classroom, and it is important for parents and children alike to avoid a deficit model among these Funds of Knowledge, seeing them as something to be “adjusted to” an appropriate level. On the next page, there is a printable survey (based on Gonzalez, Moll and Amanti, 2005) which explores children’s Funds of Knowledge. Depending on the age of children, their levels of language, etc., these could be filled in by children, sent home to parents, or discussed at parents’ evenings.
The funds of knowledge approach builds on a social development and learning theory, arguing for an acknowledgement of children’s home and community experiences, and exploring how teachers and schools may use these funds of knowledge to help individual children to create personalised ways of knowing. Issues undoubtedly exist in terms of equitability and workload, but the approach offers a critical lens for curriculum development, helping teachers to understand ‘where the learners are coming from’.
Gonzalez, N., (2005). Beyond Culture: The hybridity of Funds of Knowledge. Gonzalez, N., Moll, L. and Amanti, C. (Eds.) Funds of Knowledge. Theorizing practices in households, communities and classrooms. London: Routledge.
Gonzalez, N., Moll, L. and Amanti, C. (2005). Preface. Gonzalez, N., Moll, L. and Amanti, C. (Eds.) Funds of Knowledge. Theorizing practices in households, communities and classrooms. London: Routledge.
Grace, D.J. (2008). Interpreting Children’s Constructions of their Ethnicity. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, 9(2), p131-147.
All about YOU!
Name: ________________________________ Date: __________________
|These are the languages I speak, and who I speak them to:|
|These are things my family thinks are important (e.g. holiday celebrations, religious beliefs, work ethic):|
|These are the people in our family (family members and ages, pets), and where they live:|
|These are people I help look after (e.g. elderly relatives, younger siblings, other care responsibilities), and this is what I do:|
|When we do things as a family, these are the kinds of things we do (e.g. shopping, go to park, sports activities, library, trips, etc.):|
|These are the chores I do around the house (e.g. cleaning room, doing dishes, hanging up laundry):|
|These are the jobs the people in my family have (parents, care givers, older siblings):|
|These are things that are important to me (sports, TV shows, books, games, hobbies):|
|These are other things I would like you to know about me:||