Funds of Knowledge

Funds of Knowledge Activity
Read the information about Funds of Knowledge below
Look at one or two of the following videos.

Think about (write about) what funds of knowledge might these students bring to your classroom?

The idea behind Funds of Knowledge is that students come to school with a rich array of experiences which potentially can be tapped into as a part of the learning process. Consider the funds of knowledge the children of friends of mine bring to school. These three young people live on a small Appalachian farm. The boys know a lot about carpentry because their uncles who live in the same area are excellent carpenters. They know about tobacco farming because that is one way their family makes money. Growing tobacco is a complex process, entailing not just planting and caring for the plants but also processing them to get them ready for market. The boys know a lot about vegetable farming because their great-grandfather, who also lives in the area, grows and sells vegetables in the summer. The boys have also learned about automobile repair because their parents do most of their own work on the various vehicles they own and have owned. They can drive tractors and large trucks. They can split wood and stoke a coal fire. Their family's pipes freeze frequently, so they know about plumbing. Their parents built an addition on the house and the boys know how to put up sheet rock. Their father plays banjo, guitar, and bass. As a result, they know how to learn music independently of music teachers and how to learn by ear. They own a computer and the three boys are able users of it, along with the various game systems they own. They can kill and dress a deer and know how to handle guns safely. They can fish.

When we start with the familiar, it makes it easier for students to move to the unfamiliar. Growing tobacco requires a lot of math, including figuring out how many small starter plants you need for a given field, figuring out how much fertilizer and weed controllers to use, figuring out how much barn space you need to house the tobacco, figuring out how much you will make assuming you get a particular price for your crop, and then figuring out how much to save back for Uncle Sam. Math instruction that makes use of this knowledge allows students to work with schemas they have already developed and to connect new knowledge to what is already known, rather than having to create new understandings of math concepts that are seemingly unconnected to everyday life.

How do we find out what funds of knowledge students possess? Most of the time, people take their funds of knowledge information for granted and may not realize that this array of skills can be used in their learning. Figuring out what a student knows requires getting to know the student and his or her family. Listen for evidence of what the student does outside of school hours: sports, hobbies, lessons, various kinds of work. Listen for the kinds of jobs parents and other adults close to the students have.


Here is the reference for the above research article. It focuses on assessment but discusses funds of knowledge in that process.
THIS TEST IS UNFAIR
Urban African American and Latino
High School Students’ Perceptions of
Standardized College Admission Tests
MARYBETH WALPOLE
PATRICIA M. MCDONOUGH
University of California–Los Angeles
CONSTANCE J. BAUER
Gloucester Township Public School District
CAROLYN GIBSON
KAMAU KANYI
RITA TOLIVER
Rowan University


Bluegrass Friends

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Activity: consider how the techniques of learning utilized by non-classical musicians could be brought into the classroom, or think of how you could bring non-classical musicians into your school or classroom.

Nonclassical musicians have a lot to offer those of us who have been trained in the classical world. For one thing, they model the lifelong learning process. All of these guys did (do) other jobs to make a living and play music for fun. All of them have spent a large part of their adult lives working on learning music.

Another thing they teach us is that you can be a great musician without following the method book strictly (or at all)! Their paths into music were strongly influenced by what they liked. Each one learned a different set of tunes and songs not just because they play different instruments but also because they like different music (and different music was available to them). We don't have a method book for teaching language (thank God--because if we did, a lot more kids would be mute). Different kids have a different set of first words because of their different circumstances. The same can be true of music; there are many paths to becoming a fine musician.

When I played classical music, one of my favorite forms was the string quartet because of the intimacy of it, especially compared to an orchestra. I like bluegrass even better because it's like a string quartet without the music stands getting in the way. There's no translation process of print to sound--just sound.

Working with these friends of mine, I have learned that some of the implicit "rules" of classical music are myths:

The goal of working on music is to become a concert violinist; anything less than that is failure.
A major goal is technical perfection. Less than technical perfection is worthless.
Technique is more important than feeling/communication/musical expression.
Approximating performance is not an option. It's either perfect or non-existent.
There is only one way to think about or understand music.
Fellow musicians are people with whom to compete.
Some people are born with musical talent. The rest should close their instrument cases and put them back under the bed.




Here are some pictures and video clips of a graduate student square dance from the summer of 2009.


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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1dXC8vSAN2Y&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mY9U5GmQDmw&feature=related