In Search of Confluences: Locating Productive Overlap in STEM and Heritage Practices
Chapman, Katherine Carr
In recent years, education scholars have argued that we should be working to expand students' experiences of what counts in and as disciplinary knowledge building. Much of this work in schools focuses on the knowledge practices of marginalized demographic groups. In this dissertation I build on this important equity work to argue that expanding the disciplines is a worthwhile goal of out of school programs as well. Learning in out-of-school spaces is both meaningful in its own right and has the potential to support academic learning. Given the well-documented disconnect between out-of-school and in-school knowledge, however, productive contact may only be consistent when specifically designed for. In this work, I look at two places of potential overlap—a knitting group that highlights the mathematics of crafting, and a summer camp looking at the physics behind sailing small boats. In these contexts, I argue that the metaphor of blending practices or blurring boundaries that often supports equity work is inadequate, and instead propose the idea of confluence spaces—places where different knowledge building practices are negotiated in situ by students and facilitators, and where notions of epistemic agency are foregrounded.