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Steps: 3-Questions > 3.3-Mismatches Between Cultures > 3.3.2-Home Culture & Curriculum


3.3.2 How might mismatches between a student's or group's home culture(s) and the school curriculum be contributing to the puzzling situation?

School curricula and related texts in the United States generally are consistent with the experiences of middle class European American students. When mismatches between the knowledge students acquire at home and the knowledge valued in school are not addressed, students from non-mainstream backgrounds can be placed at educational risk.

Funds of Knowledge approach

The Funds of Knowledge for Teaching Project (González, 1995; González, Moll, & Amanti, 2004a; González, Moll, Floyd-Tenery, Rivera, Rendon, Gonzales, & Amanti, 1993; González, Moll, Tenery, Rivera, Rendon, Gonzles, & Amanti, 1995; Moll, Amanti, Neff, & González, 1992) has successfully addressed this concern by helping teachers collect information about the "funds of knowledge" present in the households of their students and then develop curricular applications from what they have learned. "Funds of knowledge" are defined as "historically accumulated bodies of knowledge and skills essential for household functioning and well-being" (González, 1995, p. 4).

Classroom Diversity, a book edited by McIntyre, Rosebery, and González (2001), presents a rich collection of work in this tradition from across the U.S. Chapters show how teachers have used African American, Haitian American, Latino, Native American, and rural white Appalachian students' household-based funds of knowledge to support their learning of reading, writing, mathematics and science.

In discussing her research with Mexican and Mexican American students and their families, Reese (2002) highlighted several important cautions related to culturally relevant pedagogy. First, it is important to recognize the considerable variability that exists within any group, even within a particular local community. Second, the ways in which the culture(s) of a group are changing need to be taken into account. It is especially important to not assume (without evidence) that culture(s) of students' home countries should be the basis for addressing cultural mismatches. "To be meaningful and effective, instructional adaptations need to be tailored to the children in the classroom and school, not to preconceived ideas about what membership in a particular social group means for all members of that group" (Reese, 2002, p.54).

Adding broader ethnic content

In contrast to the Funds of Knowledge approach, which focuses on incorporating local knowledge into the curriculum, some scholars have focused on including more broadly based ethnic content into the curriculum. Banks (2004) provided an overview of different approaches to integrating ethnic content into the curriculum.

As mentioned previously, in examining possible cultural mismatches it is very important to remember that your goal is to understand, not to judge. Because this CIP step most likely will involve examining perspectives and experiences that are different than your own, it is especially important to remind yourself of this if you are using this cultural perspective in your CIP project.

Success Stories & CIP Studies Related to Mismatches Between Cultures

Consider next question: 3.3.3
Gather information on this question: 4.3.2


Steps: 3-Questions > 3.3-Mismatches Between Cultures > 3.3.2-Home Culture & Curriculum
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