manifests this behavior in school, she
is simply doing what works for her at
She is not being rude. Nor is she
a discipline problem. She does not
necessarily have a learning disability.
Tawanda’s fund of knowledge says that
when you have something to say in
a group of people, you say it as loud
as you can, even if someone else is
have to stay there while your clothes
are in the washer and dryer so they
are not stolen. And then you have to
gather your clothes together and get
back home again. All the time and effort
needed for clean clothes may have a low
priority for a woman struggling daily to
keep a roof over her family’s heads and
food on the table. She may not have
the time it takes to wash clothes, so her
children wear what is available.
comparison to such needs.
One fund of knowledge says that
homework is important for school
success. The other says that some things
are more important than homework.
Perhaps you have had to use a laundromat
on occasion to wash your clothes. If so, you
know how challenging that can be.
Two different funds of knowledge are
at work. One says that you wait your
turn to speak. The other says that to
get your needs met, you’d better speak
up. The teacher’s challenge is to help
Tawanda learn other ways of interacting
in the classroom without putting down
behavior that helps her at home.
One fund of knowledge says you
wear clean clothes that are in good
repair when you come to school. The
other says there are more important
things in life than clean clothes—things
like a home and food. Neither fund
of knowledge is better than the other.
They are just different. At least Jenny is
Why does that mother let her daughter
come to school dressed like that?
Jenny wore the same T-shirt and jeans
to school every day for a week. On
occasion, she wore the same outfit the
next week. Her favorite outfit was a
purple T-shirt with Minnie Mouse on
it and jeans that were an inch or two
too short. Her shoes slapped when she
walked because the sole of one shoe was
loose. Her hair was rarely brushed. Her
socks—when she wore socks—were
Jenny’s clothes may be dirty or in
poor repair, but is her mother really
uncaring? Perhaps you have had to
use a laundromat on occasion to wash
your clothes. If so, you know how challenging that can be. You have to collect
all your dirty clothes and carry them to
the laundromat—an especially difficult
task without a car. You have to have the
correct change and your detergent. You
Why doesn’t he do his homework?
Henry never has his homework but
always has an excuse. Sometimes he left
it at home. At other times, a kid tore
it up on the bus on the way to school.
Occasionally, Henry develops a bad
attitude about homework and tells the
teacher that doing homework is stupid
or a waste of time.
Henry may want to do his
assignment, but his home might be so
chaotic and noisy that there’s no place
to think about or do schoolwork. In
addition, Henry’s parents could work
multiple jobs or swing shifts and not
always be available to encourage and
help. Some students have to make sure
that younger siblings get something to
eat, others must work a part-time job
so the family has enough rent money,
and still others might be caring for an
ailing grandparent. Homework pales in
That child is so lazy. He sleeps
in class every day!
Raymond falls asleep every day in
class. He doesn’t even try to be sly
about it. He just throws his head back
with his mouth open and sometimes
even snores. No matter how hard the
teacher tries to engage Raymond, he
falls asleep. When prodded to wake up,
Raymond just glares and sits with his
arms crossed over his chest. Another
teacher has talked with Raymond, and
he promises to stay awake in her class
because he really connects with the
teacher and enjoys the science lab days.
But when he’s in class, his eyes slide
halfway closed, he starts to doze off and
then wakes up, and before long he falls
Is Raymond really lazy? Raymond’s
dad may get off work at midnight;
and because Raymond wants to spend
time with his father, he is awake late
into the night. Or perhaps his home or
neighborhood is so noisy that he can’t
get a good night’s rest. He may have
responsibilities for family that make it
difficult to get seven hours of sleep.
One fund of knowledge says that
children need a good night’s sleep on
school nights. The other says that you
spend time together as parent and child
when you can. Or you live where you
can afford, even when the conditions
are unhealthy. Or you take care of
people in your life.
Responding to Differences
Realizing the differences in funds of
knowledge can help educators ford the
separation that socioeconomics can
place between teacher and student.
Simulations such as the one developed
by the Missouri Association for Community Action ( www.communityaction
.org) can help educators understand