For the last week, my school has been engaged in state testing. This year, I am testing a group of 7th graders, none of whom I was previously familiar with. On the first day of testing, I noticed one student was having a particularly difficult time with focus. He fidgeted to the point where he became a distraction for the other students. The first thing I did was had him switch seats with another student so he was seated in the back and could stand if he needed to. Following testing, while he was waiting for his peers to finish, I gave him pipe cleaners, which became the hit of the room (clearly, they don’t always need electronics to keep their attention). The next day, I taught them how to macramé, bringing in a roll of hemp. I drew on my own need to have something to do with my hands from when I wasn’t too much older than they are now. It had an amazing effect on the kids. I wasn’t trying to placate or medicate them, instead I was trying to help them channel their nervous energy–that which gets them medicated–into something that would allow everyone in the room the best testing experience they could possibly have.
In Part II of Funds of Knowledge, the individual authors describe how their classrooms and teaching transformed because their ethnography research required them to make home visits. These teacher researchers discovered that their students’ learning was more full and well rounded–they were engaged in a way they hadn’t been before–because the parents of the students were made to feel that they contributed to the schooling of their child within the institution by bringing their individual expertise into the institutional environment. I have a different thought.
Mind you, the purpose of this is not to bash or undermine what these teachers accomplished in their classrooms by involving parents. In all reality, I celebrate what they accomplished. I, however, would like to extend upon their thinking and ask why teachers don’t reflect in such a way that they bring their whole being–those untapped cultural tools that the teacher-researchers found in their students’ parents–into their classroom as well?