Urban teachers' understandings and uses of student funds of knowledge in the development of global competence
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Global competence--a necessary attribute in an increasingly interconnected world--describes having the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to act creatively and collaboratively on important global issues. In urban settings comprised of racial, ethnic, and/or linguistic-minority students, especially, a logical but seemingly underutilized facilitator of global competence would be instruction that draws from students’ funds of knowledge--the home-based practices central to a household’s functioning and well-being. In response to a need for deepened insight into how these concepts may interact in practice, the goal of this qualitative study was to better understand the experience of urban teachers as global competence educators, specifically, the extent to which they consider and utilize their students’ funds of knowledge in developing global competence. In this study, 30 Boston area teachers were interviewed using a semi-structured protocol to draw out their understandings of students’ funds of knowledge and their awareness of how these funds of knowledge might be used to further the development of global competence. Data produced in this study were analyzed through a multi-phase thematic coding process. A conceptual framework built upon existing definitions of global competence and funds of knowledge was developed to inform the design and methodology of this study, and was used as a guide for viewing and understanding the produced data. The two major findings of this study were that: (1) teachers, while seemingly able and willing to talk about global competence and funds of knowledge in relation to their students, did not seem to synthesize (or speak about their synthesis of) these concepts in practice, and, (2) in teacher interviews, potential global competence-supporting funds of knowledge were most often recognized in immigrant and/or economically privileged White students. The potential global competence-supporting funds of knowledge possessed by non-immigrant, minority, and presumably, low-income students were not routinely recognized or accessed.
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