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Engaging Families in Culturally Relevant Ways
Families play an important role in the improvement of classroom practices. All that researchers have to do is to discover how families develop social networks that facilitate the exchange and development of skills and knowledge. Therefore, a qualitative study of households is an approach that can help to get information about different spheres of life of families. Accordingly, homes of students are considered to be full of funds of knowledge that can be successfully incorporated into classrooms.
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In the article Funds of Knowledge for Teaching: Using a Qualitative Approach to Connect Homes and Classrooms Luis C. Moll, Cathy Amanti, Deborah Neff and Norma Gonzalez state that household arrangements sharply contrast with typical classroom practices. The teacher in such a household perfectly knows the child as a person, not just as a student, knowing numerous spheres of the student `s activity. Teacher-student relationship seems narrow and one-sided as the teacher evaluates the performance of the student only in the classroom environment. I totally agree with the authors, as it is a common situation when teachers cant realize in which social world a student is raised, therefore they may act unfairly towards such a student if the students performance doesnt meet the teachers requirements.
In our class discussion, we largely agreed that in households students are not passive bystanders, but they participate actively in various social relationships. Hanal pointed out that it would be better to motivate the learning process in our school by childrens interest, as it is more rewarding to obtain knowledge by yourself, so that it is not imposed on you. Doyoon said that new useful experiences with peers might be included in the funds of knowledge brought to school. Bokyung also talked about the benefits of her teacher knowing about her social activities. Once she talked with Bokyungs parents about her achievements, the teacher became more attentive to her interest in foreign cultures. I would suggest that a household research is very helpful in the classroom. Heyejin pointed out that background experiences help to get to know more about other countries and their economic systems. Intellectual contribution to the students academic level is the main goal of such a research. In my opinion, it is of great importance to students group to become a real research team. I can say that a discussion with my classmates helped me clarify my opinion.
After reading the article Students' Multiple Worlds: Negotiating the Boundaries of Family, Peer, and School Cultures, the statements of Patricia Phelan and Ann Locke Davidson made me take a closer look at the interrelationships between students' family, peer, and school worlds. It is no wonder that these worlds make a tremendous influence on students engagement in school and learning. However, students adaptations to a different setting require a lot of efforts. I cant but totally agree that these efforts depend on the values and norms of different contexts. Furthermore, the easier students manage to move between these settings, the higher the quality of life they may achieve and the higher the chances of gaining productive work experiences.
In our class discussion, we largely agreed that students employed cultural knowledge that their families, peers and school worlds provided them with in social contexts. It is no secret that the goals of dynamic teachers and motivated programs are to transform their institutions into those with high socioeconomic status and limited cultural and language barriers. Im more than sure that such schools can help students become serious and committed individuals. I agree that students boundaries and the barriers between worlds should be created. Doyoon expressed his view about studies that focus only on certain social groups. For example, a study that focuses on family groups only cant explain the essence of school and classroom features. Furthermore, cultural background, social factors and peer-group behavior cant be underestimated, since they have an extremely high impact on students engagement in learning.
Additionally, the perception of students` boundaries varies greatly and each student uses different adaptation strategies that are affected by external conditions. We agree with the authors that there are distinctive patterns among students as they cross the settings. Bokyung points out that she is comfortable within the boundaries of her congruent worlds, therefore he is Type I of social adaptation (Congruent Worlds/Smooth Transitions). She enjoys time spent with friends, at the same time she respects her family`s values and is eager to fulfill their expectations. We agree that for the students who move from one setting to another harmoniously, values, expectations and norms of behavior are almost the same across worlds. The actors in their lives cross the boundaries as well. Hanal talks about students whose social settings are distinct and he states that the existence of such groups of people is inevitable, as multiple worlds should be different due to various cultures, ethnicity or religion. Nevertheless, such students manage to adapt themselves to different settings. They adopt strategies to overcome the boundaries: whether to join a certain school group to find new friends or to concentrate on school-work. Heyejin mentions the role of the classroom environment. In some cases the structure of classes prevents students from interacting with each other. In my opinion, school teachers should provide more classes with cooperative learning, since such method of teaching can create a bridge between students of different nationalities and social settings. Moreover, the introduction of classes with members of families can be very instructive and exciting experience for students.
During our discussion we came up with a simple explanation: the ability of students to cross the boundaries of their multiple worlds successfully indicate their level of adaptation and flexibility of shifting between social settings. Such students feel more comfortable and are less stressed in every-day life. If you want to learn how to cross social boundaries, you have to find a powerful argument to benefit from this adjustment. Yes, it is not easy, but youll become more confident and the difficulties you may encounter can be considered as unimportant.