Oral Presentation Session
Reviewed by: Council on Anthropology and Education
Of interest to: Practicing and Applied Anthropologists, Teachers of Anthropology in Community Colleges, Students, Those Involved in Mentoring Activities
Primary Theme: Inequality
Secondary Theme: Immigration/Migration/Citizenship
Educational research on youth from non-dominant communities has highlighted these youth’s lack of educational success as linked either to sociolinguistic deficits or to discontinuities between home and school cultural practices (e.g. Ballenger 1992; Delpit 1986; Heath 1983, 1986; Philips 1983). The field has made important moves beyond the “deficit” perspectives that historically predominated, with such important concepts as funds of knowledge (Moll 1992a; González et al, 2005) which points to ways of identifying cultural resources in communities, and of connecting them to schools. However, there are several issues that have been raised in relation to how this research has been used to inform pedagogical practice: First, often these are general appeals without substantive examples that show the connections between schools and cultural rescources should be made; second, the cultural practices that are usually focused on are those of adults in a community to the detriment of emergent and dynamic practices of young people themselves; third, until recently, this body of work has collectively tended to emphasize discontinuities between everyday and school practices, rather than seeing schools as sites of possibility for bridging those differences. This contrasts with approaches, such as the cultural modeling paradigm (Lee 1995, 1997) –which argued for finding robust points of continuity between the skills that youth from non-dominant communities themselves use in their lives in and out of school–, and with the more recent culturally sustaining pedagogies paradigm (Paris and Alim 2017) –which calls for educators to re-imagine schools as sites where the heterogenous practices of non-dominant youth are not only positively acknowledged or used as starting points, but critically sustained as part of the learning process–.
Inspired by these developments, this panel examines how the linguistic repertoires and cultural funds of knowledge of non-dominant youth can be used as points of strengths for school success and for building expansive cultural toolkits in an increasingly intercultural world - rather than as deficits to be remedied, or mere token stepping stones to academic skills. Using as examples practices of reading the land among urban Native American families, everyday experiences of children in mixed-citizenship-status families, Bible reading & interpretation in a Central American Pentacostal church, everyday translanguaging practices in Moroccan immigrant children peer groups, and of how cultural data sets from Latinx and African-American students are used in Teacher Education, these papers identify how these practices can be used as generative points of continuity and productively expanded upon in school.
In keeping with this year’s theme, which emphasizes anthropology’s diverse ways of addressing change in a time of rapid social change and deepening inequalities, the panel highlights the central role that educational ethnography can play in changing schooling structures and envisioning pluralistic developmental paths to success. By suggesting how everyday practices and ways of learning can be centered, sustained and stretched in classrooms, these papers sketch concrete pathways to promote educational resilience among non-dominant youth, while creating new possibilities for a shared future of more democratic and socially just educational spaces.