We are all storytellers: immersed in my narrative worlds

Humans are storytelling organisms who, individually and socially, lead storied lives. ~ Jean Clandinin & Michael Connelly 

our constructed stories connect us

our constructed stories connect us

Whether teaching, writing, conversing or considering our own lives and identities, we are all doing one thing: storytelling.

I have recently been quiet in the Twitterverse and blogosphere, partly because more than ever before I am immersed in micro and meta layers of story.

I have been tunnelling into my PhD narrative research in every spare moment, thinking obsessively and writing dangerously. I am sharing, constructing and analysing the stories of myself, teachers and schools leaders in order to reveal insights into professional identity, professional learning and school change. I am penning my first journal article about experimental ways of telling, utilising and analysing stories in research.

When I am not researching or thinking about my narrative research, I am teaching English to high school students. Reading stories, writing stories, analysing stories, watching stories, performing stories.

Or I am with my own children, reading stories, telling stories, making storyable memories, recounting favourite moments, role playing imagined scenes with make believe characters. Or talking to my husband about his work in media and content marketing, which is all about individuals and organisations telling their stories and constructing their storied identities, in order to communicate and connect. Or blogging vignettes from my own lived story. Or planning conference presentations of my research story or the story of my school’s teacher growth model.

We are indeed storytelling creatures. While I also try to be present in each moment and to live in wonder, stories embody the ways we construct our experiences, connect with each other and the world. I write my own stories, teach the telling and interpreting of stories, and engage in the theorising of stories. Have I used the word ‘story’ enough times in this post to indicate that it is currently both intoxicating and maddening to me? Story story story.

Obsessed and submerged, back into the subterranean story cave I go …

After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world. ~ Philip Pullman

by @debsnet


7 thoughts on “We are all storytellers: immersed in my narrative worlds

  1. Brava! What an excellent write up! Where would we be without stories? What would become of culture, history and religion if it were not for the power, beauty and necessity of story.

    As a teacher of very young children I use stories all of the time – not just reading them, but telling them and making them up to help teach difficult concepts. This morning I was trying to teach my class the concept of ” o’clock” and the position of the hands on a clock. As I stared at the blinking, blank expressions on my class of 4 and 5-years olds I found myself reverting back to my tried and tested teaching aid – making everything into a story and using the children as the characters. I know that not all of them have got the concept of time (that takes time), but I know they were a lot more receptive to learning about it and that I managed to get my point across to more children than I would have if I had stuck doggedly to the “mathsy” style of teaching prescribed in the scheme of work I occasionally follow.

    While I was studying for my masters in Educational Psychology the theme of “the story” was a constant companion. Although, I knew that children and adults love stories I had not fully appreciated just how fundamental story is to children’s development by aiding their social, academic and emotional selves. Stories have the power to enrich attachments between parents and children as the children listen to stories at bedtime. I always advise parents who are pushed for time that if they have to chose between getting their child to read to them from their school reading book or letting the child enjoy listening to a story before bed always go for the latter option. It may seem like a very passive activity, but it has multiple benefits for a child.

    Stories help develop a child’s language skills by extending a child’s vocabulary and enhancing their listening skills, which ultimately feed into a child’s reading and writing skills. Stories are a crucial component of a child’s ability to think creatively and imitatively by giving them the opportunity to use an image or representative within a story to help them conceive of a world which is not the here and now (getting back to trying to teach the concept of time).These skills are vital for a child to problem-solve when dealing with new situations and new people. Fairy tales, myths and folktales, for example, allow children to interact with elaborations of the often impossible, which underpin abstract concepts that children can readily relate to. In European cultures the ‘forest’ motif, which is common to many fairy tales, is easily understood by all children as representing the fear of the unknown world beyond the family home.

    Although, schools are not able to indulge quite as fulsomely as William Wordsworth in his “Great Ode” of 1804 where he describes children’s imagination as “trailing clouds of glory”, some of us teachers do use story a huge amount to help children develop and learn.

    Last year I bumped into a former pupil of mine who is just getting ready to go to university. I taught him when he was 6 years old. He came up to me in the street and said “Mr B. I have never forgotten your stories. Where did you get them from?” I replied, “My head!”

    As Steve Moffat, producer of BBC’s Dr Who series, said: “We’re all stories, in the end.”


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