The Role of Communal Practices in the Generation of Capital and Emotional Energy among Urban African American Students in Science Classrooms
by Gale Seiler & Rowhea Elmesky - 2007
One of the intractable aspects of the so-called achievement gap between Black and White students lies in our failure to identify viable ways to increase science achievement and participation among African American students living in our inner cities. However, there has been little research that attempts to understand how the social and cultural experiences of these African American students affect what happens in science classrooms. Using lenses from cultural sociology, the research presented in this paper begins to describe the nature of communalism as a cultural disposition and a component of their repertoires of practice. While recognizing the complex and contradictory nature of culture, we argue that communalism is common among African American experiences and has particular significance in interactions among urban teens, and that it permeates urban classrooms as well. By focusing on a pair of African American male students, we answer important questions of how communal practices afford the generation of social and symbolic capital along with positive emotional energy, as shared goals are addressed and science participation and understanding are enhanced. In addition, we offer suggestions on how teachers can employ an understanding of the role of communalism, capital, and emotional energy in improving science teaching and learning in their classrooms.
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