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The experience of home economics teachers in Saudi Arabian classrooms Alharbi, Mashael Saud

Abstract

The national curriculum of Saudi Arabia aims to provide young people with the capabilities to participate in society that are framed around the values expressed in the Qur’an and through Islamic rules. The provision of public education for Saudi girls and young women has been developing since the 1960’s and includes home economics as one of the subjects. Offered at the elementary, intermediate, and high school levels the home economics curriculum has a specific focus on improving family life, hygiene, and nutrition. There is limited research about home economics teachers and their work. Guided by a centralised curriculum, teachers enact curriculum through teaching strategies and the learning activities. The focus of this study is to explore teachers' experiences within the classroom and drawing upon a funds of knowledge approach, to understand the curricula decisions teachers make. Following a phenomenological case study design, eight teachers from Mecca city, a major urban city in the western region of Saudi Arabia were interviewed and observed in their classrooms. Of particular interest was how these teachers perceived the impact on their student’s food practices, healthy diet and eating habits. By using funds of knowledge as a lens it was possible to see how teachers made decisions about enacting the curriculum based on their personal and professional knowledges; and to see how students responded based on their funds of knowledge. The findings have implications for future research about the interplay between a teacher’s funds of knowledge with that of their students within the home economics classroom. The findings point to the need for closer alignment between the food and nutrition education offered within the classroom and the food choices available at the school canteen. This study is significant in that it is the first time that a qualitative phenomenological case study exploring teachers’ funds of knowledge has been employed as a research approach in Saudi Arabia context.

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