Curriculum as praxis
Stratton, Pamela Veronica Wolski
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Health conditions related to diet are an ongoing concern in America. Diseases related to nutrition continue to escalate, not only with adults, but also with school children. Although diet and health are facets of the science taught in school, many students do not make the connection between school science and their homeworlds. To facilitate the construction of nutritional literacies, this study viewed curriculum as praxis and was informed by discourses of relevance. The study focused on community nutritional practice utilizing the anthropological tool of memory banking. A teacher, 10 students and eight community members as co-researchers, explored nutritional practices in a community/cultural context in the rural south. Primary data sources were interviews, focus group discussions of memory bank templates and reflections. The narratives of the researcher-participants contained memories of both contemporary practices and historical community nutritional practices. These collective memories were collaboratively analyzed in the narrative tradition and were portrayed as specific narratives. Additionally, more abstract analysis, primarily by the teacher-researcher, resulted in the creation of four schematic narrative templates that can be viewed as tensions or themes. These schematic narrative templates were: (a) So(ul) good but so(ul) bad, which investigated the dichotomous nature of soul or comfort food, (b) Necessity has become luxury, which examined paradoxically, how, in the past, food was hunted, grown, and preserved at the home place, yet now these food products are not common, and are appreciated as pleasurable and prized, (c) We changed! which discussed the empowerment of the teacher and a female co-researcher as a result of the inquiry process, and (d) Accepted authority, which centered around the phenomenon of how the students honored health and dietary advice from their community elders, yet resisted the same advice in other contexts. This action ethnography was underpinned by an emancipatory pedagogy, and placed the community at the nexus of science learning. Implications for further research, as well as curriculum/classroom applications point to the use of alternative approaches to viewing curriculum, especially by including community funds of knowledge.