Things I Know 294 of 365: Students are rich in Funds of Knowledge

…children in the households are not passive bystanders, as they seem in the classrooms…

– Luis Moll et al.

One of my favorite texts this semester is a reading from Luis Moll, Cathy Amanti, Deborah Neff, and Norma Gonzalez entitled “Funds of Knowledge for Teaching: Using a Qualitative Approach to Connect Homes and Classrooms.” It’s better than it sounds. Let me distill:

“Our claim is that by capitalizing on household and other community resources, we can organize classroom instruction that far exceeds in quality the rote-like instructions these children [from working-class Mexican communities in Tucson, AZ] commonly encounter in schools.”

“We use the term ‘funds of knowledge’ to refer to these historically accumulated and culturally developed bodies of knowledge and skills essential for household or individual functioning and well-being.”

“[Home] networks are flexible adaptive, and active, and may involve multiple persons from outside the homes; in our terms, they are ‘thick’ and ‘multi-stranded,’ meaning that one may have multiple relationships with the same person or with various persons.”

“When funds of knowledge are not readily available within households, relationships with individuals outside the households are activated to meet either household or individual needs. In classrooms, however, teachers rarely draw on the resources of the ‘funds of knowledge’ of the child’s world outside the context of the classroom.”

“[Fund of knowledge] is more precise for our purposes because of its emphasis on strategic knowledge and related activities essential in households’ functioning, development, and well-being. It is specific funds of knowledge pertaining to the social, economic, and productive activities of people in a local region, not ‘culture’ in its broader, anthropological sense, that we seek to incorporate strategically into classrooms.”

I’ve been in many a conversation that came close to these ideas, but Moll, Amanti, Neff, and Gonzalez put it in simply relatable terms and their full work is worth your time. Here’s the citation:

Moll, Luis et al. (Spring 1992). “Funds of Knowledge for Teaching: Using a Qualitative Approach to Connect Homes and Classrooms,” in Theory Into Practice, XXXI(2), 132-141.

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