Pro-activating curriculum: A problematic-based approach

Year: 2016

Author: Brennan, Marie, Zipin, Lew

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Students from power-marginalised positions are typically alienated by curriculum work built around modes of knowledge that lack familiarity in their social-cultural lives. A counter-movement for engaging and intellectually challenging such students is the Funds of Knowledge (FoK) approach, as developed by Moll, Gonzalez and associates. The FoK approach (re)searches for, and designs curriculum around, cultural knowledge that has meaningful use in learners’ family and local community life-worlds. This chapter extends the FoK approach in a pro-active direction. That is, along with bringing local community knowledge into school curriculum, we conceive a reciprocal ‘giving back’ through curriculum that contributes actively to work on local community problematics. By problematics, we mean matters of significant local need, concern and aspiration for futures—such as chronic flooding, rising youth unemployment, new inter-cultural tensions brought by demographic shift, and so on—that connect to dynamics of global change in dimensions of environment, economy, governance and more. In this curricular process, spontaneous conceptions that emerge among young people about their natural and social life-worlds would scaffold into connection with systematic and explanatory powers of disciplinary subjects—as per Vygotskyan insights about building a zone of proximal development that underpin the FoK approach. In parallel, student projects would seek to bring together people with local expertise in experiencing community-based problematics, and people with scientific expertise that can apply to these problematics—as per philosopher of science Isabelle Stengers’ conception of a ‘competency group’ of mutual learners and knowledge-creators.