Education for the human journey: Personal narrative in the primary classroom

Year: 2001

Author: Ward, Gay

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This study is part of a Ph.D. qualitative exploration into the use of narrative in Montessori, Steiner, and other primary schools. In-depth interviews of teachers from twelve schools were used to collect stories on how teachers use narrative for curriculum and personal development and how they perceive these uses as relating to their own educational philosophies and to the ethos of their particular schools. Teachers' storied experiences were analysed using NUD*IST software. A wide spectrum of narrative uses related to meaning making was revealed including using narrative as both an oral and written language genre, as a means of curriculum integration, as a means of identifying and understanding personal journeys as well as universal values, and as a tool for establishing connectedness and effecting transformations.

This paper will focus on the interesting and varied approaches revealed for helping students experience the complexity of the human journey including acknowledging narrative thinking as separate from paradigmatic thinking, provision for imagery and allegory, rhythm, ritual and memory. In addition, educational approaches for fostering the construction and exploration of personal narrative will be discussed including creating opportunities for authentic dialogue, the use of sharing, autobiography and biography as well as intergenerational and multicultural storytelling.