Funds of knowledge refers to those historically developed and accumulated strategies (e.g., skills, abilities, ideas, practices) or bodies of knowledge that are essential to a household's functioning and well-being (for details, see Greenberg, 1989; Veléz-IbáÑez & Greenberg, 1992; Moll, 2000).
Contemplating and preparing for 'funds of knowledge' can be an excellent way to start your planning for a new school term. Without knowing what the students already know or can potentially know (and teach us and others) based on their home, family and community contexts, how can we really have an effective plan?
Try googling 'Funds of Knowledge.' Everything I found on the front couple of pages there of search was interesting, appealing and helpful.
Realistically, not many of us have the time to go out and 'research' our students and their families in their homes and communities. Some might not even find that prospect appealing, for potentially valid reasons. However, it IS possible to draw on funds of knowledge to a greater or lesser extent through the curriculum itself.
With my new batch of Year 11 students this year, one of the first things I have to 'knock over' is a set of foundation literacy skills in combination with some basic OH&S priorities. This could, in fact, get done pretty quickly by just throwing the ready to roll OH&S documents, videos and worksheets at the learners.
What I have done is expand this considerably by beginning first with a series of FoK activities. Learners will be invited to talk and write about accidents and injuries they've witnessed in their homes and communities. How did these incidents happen and how did people handle them? They will identify and explain a variety of things they know how to do -- especially with tools, basic or complex -- and how they've learned to do them safely.
Using that as the nucleus, we'll expand out to look at what they need to know about workshop and tools safety. Hopefully they'll have the beginnings of some awareness, that they already know more than they or our program might haven initially given them initial credit for, but there is also more to learn (and it is important to learn).
When I was a language teacher, this sort of thing generally got labelled 'schemata' or 'schema activation.' However, funds of knowledge is a more robust and pragmatic way of looking at it, methinks.
Does funds of knowledge feature in your initial planning for coursework in 2012?