Levels of storytelling, Part 1
   Continued. . .

We educate mostly through stories whether intentionally or not. We could no more avoid it than we could avoid breathing. Even if we decided to avoid stories and to stick to analyses and explanations and the conveyance of facts stripped of narrative context–well, that decision and its consequences would become our story. Doctoral students in physics learn to be physicists partly through rigorous course work that can seem quite far from narrative, but looking closer we see that must of what they learn about thinking like physicists they learn by telling and hearing stories about study strategies they used and how they worked, shortcuts other physicists attempted and the consequences that followed, experiments that led to success or failure, behavior that led to good jobs or lost jobs, grant proposals that found sponsors and those that did not, and so on.

My point is not that we should illustrate this or that point by telling anecdotes, though that may not be a bad idea. Rather, it’s that since we can’t avoid becoming stories we should pay conscious attention to those stories. Schools–like persons, families, and communities–are networks of stories, including the everyday stories teachers create in the process of taking attendance and getting classes started, handling routine classroom discipline, approving or disapproving student requests, intervening in conflicts, and so on.

Posted by Michael L Umphrey
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2005 Michael L. Umphrey
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