The Triumph of Bi-Racial Identity: Funds of Knowledge as Student Agency

The Triumph of Bi-Racial Identity: Funds of Knowledge as Student Agency

Andrew Kwabena Moss
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-6684-7379-5.ch006
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This chapter utilises an autobiographical and creative approach that links cultural history to the education children receive in the classroom. I present a narrative account of my personal story as a child of mixed racial identity as well as mixed cultural identity to explicate the range of emotions, the expanse of experiences evoked by racial hostility and the child's response as he navigates this landscape and journey towards making sense of these experiences in the shaping of his identity. This chapter is grounded in funds of knowledge theory, identity theory and culturally relevant theory. The process of the building and resulting production of my own funds of knowledge challenge the validity of the traditional Eurocentric Western epistemologies that shaped the education I received in the British classrooms of my youth. From this investigation, I have come to the conclusion that bi-racial children have the benefit of a rich, three-dimensional, dual heritage which provides a much-needed emotional foundation that allows them to thrive even within hostile settings. Teachers face the challenge of recognising, acknowledging and tapping into this gourd of cultural capital and effectively using it to heighten students' performance and guide them on the path to academic achievement.
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I use an autobiographical approach that acknowledges the value of my Anglo-Ghanaian heritage as a fund of knowledge that helped to shape my adolescent identity. While my classroom teachers did not see it fit or perhaps did not have the training to incorporate my cultural heritage as part of the classroom pedagogy, in retrospect, I can readily identity ways in which a teacher may do so in ways that are inclusive. This awareness is now of great value to my work as an educator, teaching and learning in a society still shaped by racism and discrimination. My self-identification is inextricably linked to my role as an educator and how I navigate the world. As McClean (2019) states, “I am deliberate in revealing subjectivities and assert that research is subjective and contextual as well as it may be empirical. People that have suffered are often in a unique position to give voice to the suffering of others. (p.5).

My auto-biographical approach reflects on how, as an educator, I can model and guide students from diverse backgrounds in questioning, challenging and disrupting the accuracy and validity of a Eurocentric curriculum. I provide an example of how I have actively engaged with my cultural heritage to go beyond the hostile parameters of the neo-colonial education I received as a student in Thatcher’s Britain. To boost my cultural capital, despite alienation from aspects of Eurocentric education, I have sought fewer formal avenues to become a critical thinker amidst resurgent xenophobia in 1980s Britain. In the struggle for justice and peace in the global classroom, I seek to share this critical praxis and show how using students’ rich autobiographical funds of knowledge can be utilised in classroom instruction and pedagogy. Starting with the cultural environment I grew up in, I analyse its micro-cultural manifestations and link this to the diverse macro-culture of Africa and its diaspora.

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