Funds of Knowledge: A Tool for New Zealand Teachers to Reimagine the Lives of Minoritized Students

By Linda Hogg.

Published by The International Journal of Learner Diversity and Identities

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: June 9, 2015 $US5.00

International research confirms the urgent need to identify strategies that can enhance the connection between dominant-culture teachers and students from non-dominant cultural groups. In New Zealand, educational, social and economic statistics highlight the minoritized status of Māori and Pasifika peoples. Many teachers maintain deficit views of students from minoritized groups, blaming them and their families for their relatively poor achievement. The study explored the impacts of applying a funds of knowledge (FoK) approach in a New Zealand high school, with the aim of developing new knowledge to support effective teacher practice for minoritized students. The operational definition of FoK was “knowledge and skills which students have from their lifeworld experience.” Participants (n=21) included Māori and Pasifika students, their teachers, and parents. Data collected included interviews, focus groups, observations, and documents. Most teachers were able to reimagine their Māori and Pasifika students as a result of learning about their FoK. Developments in teachers’ conceptualization of students included: disruption of previously held, incorrect assumptions; affirmation of rich, diverse FoK held; and appreciation of knowledge arising from students’ socio-cultural context. These changes provided a foundation for improved teacher-student relationships, and development of relevant pedagogical approaches. One negative case highlighted the challenges of such work. The study highlights the potential of a FoK approach to enhance the schooling experience of minoritized students, to meet social justice aims. Because this framework focuses on students’ strengths and skills, it can reframe teachers’ notions of students who are currently minoritized within the schooling system.

Keywords: Funds of knowledge, social justice, minoritized students, multicultural education, deficit theorizing

The International Journal of Learner Diversity and Identities, Volume 22, Issue 4, pp.1-16. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: June 9, 2015 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 473.983KB)).

Linda Hogg

Lecturer, School of Educational Psychology and Pedagogy, Faculty of Education, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand