A Narrative Case Study Situating Funds of Knowledge for Teaching Mathematics in the Lives of Three Latina Mother-Prospective Elementary Teachers
The purpose of this study is to explore how to raise awareness of, validate, and value the diverse knowledge bases that mother-prospective teachers have based in their prior experiences from within their families and backgrounds. Using a funds of knowledge (FoK) for teaching mathematics (Aguirre et al. 2012; Civil, 2007; Foote, 2009; González, et al., 2005) theoretical lens, this cross-cases study situates and interprets the narrative accounts of three Latina mothers and prospective teachers (PTs) as they reflect across their teacher preparation program experiences at a Hispanic-Serving Institution in the southwestern United States. As such, the study investigates 1) how Latina mother-PTs interpret utilizing children’s home and community FoK, especially for teaching mathematics, across their elementary teacher preparation program; and 2) the personal strengths and experiences Latina mother-PTs draw upon to inform their thinking about utilizing learner FoK for teaching mathematics. Results show that FoK is understood as the background knowledge and smartness from prior experiences outside of school that all learners possess. Further, students’ FoK should be used explicitly in instruction and are best uncovered through authentic relationships of care and trust with students and their families. Influenced by their mothers and grandmothers, Latina mother-PTs discuss leveraging educational and experience-based knowledge to help others succeed in the US school system. Implications for mathematics teacher educators include valuing and validating the familial and linguistic strengths that PTs from nondominant backgrounds bring with them to learning and teaching mathematics especially in their roles as significant adults in the lives of children.