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ERIC Number: EJ903547
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 15
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 34
ISSN: ISSN-0077-5762
Political and Cultural Dimensions of Organizing Learning around Funds of Knowledge
Ares, Nancy
Yearbook of the National Society for the Study of Education, v109 n1 p192-206 2010
O'Connor and Penuel (2010) argue that viewing research in education as a human science requires explicit attention to social, cultural, historical, and institutional dimensions of human activity, to the agency of participants in learning research, and to the importance of incorporating "emic" perspectives that shift the voice of the representation of human experience away from the researcher and to the participants (Pea & Martin, 2010, and Stevens, 2010). They also claim a goal for a human sciences approach that is the focus of this chapter, namely that researchers can improve both research and educational practice by making participants' beliefs and values central features of learning research. These beliefs and values are developed in community histories and sociopolitical milieu, and via engagement in cultural practices. Making central in this case means taking the ethical stance of treating those beliefs and values as critical, explicit concerns in the design, conduct, and production of research accounts, as well as in work to improve educational practice as a part of such research. This stance is particularly important within attempts to organize learning around funds of knowledge of nondominant groups, that is, when researchers seek to draw on the historically evolved social, cultural, and linguistic resources that members of these groups develop as they engage in practices of their communities. The example of nondominant youth practices that grounds this chapter is Spades card play, the focus of one of a set of youth participatory action research studies of mathematical practices that are embedded in valued cultural practices of African American communities in upstate New York. The author presents this example from a "practice" view of culture that illuminates the funds of knowledge that nondominant communities develop as they negotiate socioeconomic, environmental, political, and historical arenas of activity. Although the ideal of incorporating funds of knowledge into schooling is certainly of potential value as a means of engaging members of nondominant groups in meaningful learning in school, the need to recognize the potential dangers of co-opting such practices focuses this exploration of the political and cultural dimensions of learning by organizing.
Teachers College, Columbia University. 525 West 120th Street, New York, NY 10027. Tel: 212-678-3774; Fax: 212-678-6619; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: High Schools; Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: New York