“Funds of knowledge are constituted through events or activities. That is, funds of knowledge are not possessions or traits of people in the family but characteristics of people in an activity. Knowledge is therefore obtained by the children, not imposed by the adults… The notion of culture is a dynamic entity, not simply a collection of foods, clothes and holidays, but a way of using social, physical, spiritual and economic resources to make one’s way in the world” (Genzuk 2).



What are "Funds of Knowledge"?


  • “Assuming that the households of students are rich repositories of accumulated knowledge, teachers will conduct ethnographic school, home and community visits with the purpose of uncovering local knowledge bases. Rather than learning static ideas about their students’ “culture,” teachers can access firsthand the lived experiences of household histories and practices. This community-based knowledge can then be transformed by teachers into thematic units within the content areas of the curriculum. By adopting an anthropological lens in viewing students’ households, teachers are able to observe social science “up close and personal,” and to enhance their own professional development through ethnographic analysis. Parents and community members also respond positively to the validation of their own knowledge, and the opportunity to “tell their story” to an interested listener. This approach utilizes the notion of assisted performance, what a child can do with help, with the support of the environment, of others, and of the self” (Genzuk 1).


How Can Teachers Access Funds of Knowledge?

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Problematic Areas


"Teachers have encountered a number of obstacles that impinge on the implementation of field research. The most often cited dilemma is, of course, lack of time. During a typical day, teachers are barraged on a number of fronts with demands on their time and energy. Adding to their already overloaded schedule, an effort to visit students' households, write field notes, and meet in study groups can be a high price to pay for making a connection to the home. Once the connection is made, other problematic situations can arise. Some households have felt the confianza between teacher and household grow to such an extent that the teacher has (although rarely) been placed in the role of confidante, furnishing advice and, at times, resources in times of crisis.
One of the more important connections to be made concerns the tapping of the household funds of knowledge for use within classroom pedagogy. Although all of the teachers are convinced that these funds exist in abundance, extracting their potential for teaching has proven to be an intricate process. Curriculum units based on the more conspicuous funds such as ethno botanical knowledge of medicinal herbs and construction of buildings have emerged, but developing a tangible, systemic link to classroom practice has been more elusive. The general consensus is that teachers are in need of time and support to move from theory to practice, or from field research to practice. They strongly affirmed that the study groups provide an important way of maximizing time and combining resources and of conceptualizing the pedagogical connection between classrooms and households" (Gonzalez 2).


Case Studies:

What follows are three brief case study examples based on the teachers' experiences in doing research in their own students' households.

  1. The Estrada Family
  2. Reflecting on Change
  3. The Ramirez Family


Next:

  1. Bridging Cultures




Resources: