Language Education Policy Studies
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U.S.-Immigrants and Minorities Part 2:

Funds of Knowledge Pedagogies

This page continues from U.S.-Immigrants and Minorities Part I. 

In the case studies offered in the 2005 anthology and related articles noted below, teachers draw directly from the detailed family histories of their students to develop instructional activities and learning modules. Cathy Amanti, for example, developed a course unit focused on candy production for her sixth-grade class after intensive home interviews with the parents of one of her Mexican American students; this one-week unit covered “math, science, health, consumer education, cross-cultural practices, advertising, and food production” (Moll et al, 1992, p. 139).  Occasionally immigrant parents may also be brought into the classroom as experts on a specific topic, as a “cognitive resource for the students and teacher” (Moll et al, 1992, p. 138).  This more “participatory pedagogy” has the potential to transform students’ views of themselves and amplify their motivation to learn, in part by honoring the cultures and communities that they come from.  Such an approach obviously transcends the more familiar “folkloric displays, such as storytelling, arts, crafts, and dance performance” that schools have found valuable for affirming the cultural diversity of their students (Moll et al, 1992, p. 139).  More importantly, this pedagogy can reveal the advantages of knowledge that immigrant students possess in relation to mainstream students, especially how their transnational experiences provide them with intricate, first-hand knowledge related to common school topics (Moll et al, 1992, pp. 136–37).

Other scholarship has taken up the funds of knowledge paradigm and reconceptualized the connection between the spaces of school, home and community (e.g., “third space” scholarship; Moje et al, 2004) or offered critiques of the paradigm. Lew Zipin (2009), an Australian scholar, has observed the reluctance of funds of knowledge researchers to acknowledge and incorporate the “dark knowledge” (p. 318) of students’ lifeworlds, knowledge that relates to their experiences of poverty, violence, discrimination, and domestic distress.  This critique, of course, reveals a paradox in this pedagogical movement, which was motivated by a desire to counter social stereotypes of marginalized students as deeply impaired by social deficits and dysfunction.  Some teachers may feel that deliberately excluding dark knowledge is a more compassionate approach because it establishes school as a “safety zone . . . [where students] don’t have to deal with things that they have to deal with at home” (cited in Zipin, 2009, 322). Other scholars (Subero et al, 2015), however, have sought ways of incorporating experiences of distress and social harm into a social justice approach to funds of knowledge, in order to work towards possible responses to those problems through civic engagement.


Bilingual education policies can differ dramatically from one school district to the next and reforms will continue to be fought over, perhaps to enhance mother tongue instruction for LEP students––perhaps not.  The pedagogical strategies developed through the funds of knowledge approach, however, can be implemented in schools regardless of how language policies evolve.  Even when students’ home languages have not been authorized as the medium of instruction, their “home knowledges” can still be validated in the curricular content of that instruction, leading to many benefits that may not be immediately visible within official testing regimes.  As the scholarship produced by funds of knowledge teachers clearly demonstrates, this pedagogy has the potential to dismantle many deficit stereotypes about immigrant, working-class, and minority students and to enrich the educational experiences of all students.


In the resources posted below for this article, the websites and videos provide material that may be valuable to K-12 teachers.  The peer-reviewed articles posted in the References section include the foundational articles and books cited above, as well as more recent peer-reviewed articles. 



Handout and worksheet paired with Luis Moll interview for Head Start website

Brief about Luis Moll & funds of knowledge from EdSource (multi-media education platform based in Calif.)

Explanatory webpage by Janet Kier Lopez (U of North Carolina)

Essay by Michael Genzuk (U of Southern California) from a 1999 curriculum guide for K–8 teachers in Los Angeles school districts

PowerPoint by Cecilia Rios-Aguilar (U Arizona) 


Video Interview with Luis Moll explaining funds of knowledge and connections to Head Start


Baum, S. & Flores, S. M. (2011). Higher education and children in immigrant families. Immigrant Children, 21(1), 171–193.

Esteban-Guitart, M. (2012). Towards a multimethodological approach to identification of funds of identity, small stories and master narratives. Narrative Inquiry, 22, 173-180.

Esteban-Guitart, M. & Moll, L. C. (2014). Lived experience, funds of identity and education.  Culture & Psychology, 20(1), 70–81.

González, N., Moll, L. C., & Amanti, C. (Eds.). (2005). Funds of knowledge: Theorizing practices in households, communities and classrooms. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Hogg, L. (2011).  Funds of knowledge: An investigation of coherence within the literature.  Teaching and Teacher Education, 27, 666–677

Howard, K. M. & Lipinoga, S.  (2008).  [Review of the book Funds of knowledge: Theorizing practices in households, communities and classrooms.]  International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 11(5), 627–631.

McIntyre, E., Kyle, D. W., & Rightmeyer, E. C. (2005). Families’ funds of knowledge to mediate teaching in rural schools. Cultura y Educación, 17(2), 175-195.

Moll, L. C., Amanti, C., Neff, D., & González, N. (1992). Funds of knowledge for teaching: Using a qualitative approach to connect homes and classrooms. Theory into Practice, 31(2), 132-141.

Moll, L. C., & González, N. (1994). Lessons from research with language-minority children.  Journal of Reading Behavior, 26(4), 439–456.

Vélez-Ibáñez, C. G., & Greenberg, J. B. (1992). Formation and transformation of funds of knowledge among U.S.–Mexican households. Anthropology and Education Quarterly, 23, 313–335.

Subero, D., Vila, I., & Esteban-Guitart, M. (2015). Some contemporary forms of the funds of knowledge approach. Developing culturally responsive pedagogy for social justice.  International Journal of Educational Psychology, 4(1), 33–53.

Zipin, L. (2009).  Dark funds of knowledge, deep funds of pedagogy: Exploring boundaries between lifeworlds and schools.  Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 30(3), 317–331.

Zipin, L., Sellar, S., Brennan, M., & Gale, T. (2013). Educating for futures in marginalized regions: A sociological framework for rethinking and researching aspirations. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 47(3), 227–246.



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This information was originally published on the website of the International Network for Language Education Policy Studies ( as

Garrett, Julia M. (2015). U.S.-Immigrants and Minorities: Funds of Knowledge Pedagogies Part II. In F. V. Tochon (Ed.), Language Education Policy Studies (online). Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin—Madison. Retrieved from: (access date). 

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