How do you use writing or art in your life?
Writing has evolved in its purpose for me. When I was writing my dissertation and began as an assistant professor, it served the purpose of leading to a larger goal – graduation, tenure, etc. I soon recognized it was also one of the ways we enact our responsibilities to push for equitable educational opportunities for minoritized communities. Writing is one tool for me to do so. Now, writing is also an escape. It is a way for me to lose myself in creative, loving, community-informed ideas. Writing becomes a way for us to collectively build and grow across communities as well.
What lessons/teachings from your family, home and/or community do you draw on in your teaching and/or scholarship?
I love this question because it epitomizes the exact way I engage in my research, teaching, and service. I draw on funds of knowledge, which refers to the “historically accumulated and culturally developed bodies of knowledge and skills essential for household or individual functioning and well-being” (Moll et al., 1992, p. 133). Funds of knowledge as a framework pushes us to recognize and engage the rich cultural practices and bodies of knowledge, language(s), and social practices present within our histories, homes, and cultures (McIntyre, Rosebery, & Gonzalez, 2001).And while funds of knowledge have largely been used as a pedagogical lens within K12 education, together with Dra. Cecilia Rios-Aguilar, we’ve worked to both study and utilize funds of knowledge higher education settings. We’ve documented this work in our book, Funds of Knowledge in Higher Education: Honoring Students’ Cultural Experiences and Resources as Strengths(published by Routledge). Drawing on funds of knowledge allows us to create learning processes alongside students, with our cultural knowledge(s) shaping the direction of our scholarship.
I have so many examples of the ways in which funds of knowledge shaped my own life and learning. One of my favorite memories was my weekly breakfast dates with my Nana. During college I used to stay with her every Monday night after my Tata passed away. Tuesday mornings she’d make me breakfast and share these vivid, intricate stories of our family. I didn’t realize it at the time, but her storytelling, through oral histories, informed my methodological and theoretical approaches. Her storytelling shaped the way I approach my own writing and research, and prepared me to hear the gifts and lessons embedded in our histories and homes.
What would you tell your younger self?
I would tell my younger self, any all younger Latinas who are beginning to explore their gifts of writing and art, that you already have everything that you need. Your ideas, your forms of expression(s), your knowledge is already enough and will continue to grow stronger with each new experience. You’ve been taught so many lessons by the strong Latinas around you – mothers, grandmothers, tias, and they’ve instilled in you the lessons that will carry into your writing and art.
Advice for new scholars and/or teachers?
Rather than advice, during this time of a global health crisis that has challenged all of us in ways we could not have imagined, I have an immense message of gratitude. I am so grateful to the teachers at every level of our education systems, who in a matter of days created remote and virtual classrooms so that our children and students can continue learning. I am grateful for those teachers and scholars who are uncovering every available resource to ensure our children and students have access to technology, meals, and mental health resources. And so many of these teachers and scholars are doing this while also taking care of their own children. Thank you.
McIntyre, E., Rosebery, A., & Gonzalez, N. (Eds.). (2001). Classroom diversity: Connecting curriculum to students’ lives. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Moll, L. C., Amanti, C., Neff, D., & Gonzalez, N. (1992). Funds of knowledge for teaching: Using a qualitative approach to connect homes and classrooms. Theory Into Practice, 31(2), 132–141.