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Narrative Theory

Narrative Pedagogy

Learning and Narrative Pedagogy

Learning as cultivating virtues and qualities can be complicated to define, nevertheless we will make an attempt here to explore this further. Following Aristotle, Gill & Thomson (2009) argue that for each area of life, there is a corresponding set of virtues or qualities of character (also see Nussbaum, 1988). These qualities stress, for instance, amongst other things, being able to appreciate and care for others, having inner strength, emotional stability and openness (caring for others also requires that one cares for oneself); being able to understand, including having an appropriate appreciation of the relevant aspects and facets of the world, having good judgment, which involves knowing when and how to be critical, and when and how to be open or creative in the sense of looking for new ideas and connections, being open to the views of others and being able to reformulate or reframe problems; being proactive and having something worth caring about, including self-motivation and the ability to take initiatives, work with others, having determination as well as carefulness; having a direction in life suited to one’s own nature and talents; respecting and caring for oneself; having a rich inner life.

Perceiving learning from the angle of qualities or virtues helps learning to be conceptualised as the development of the mind, body, heart, and spirit - it is about being and becoming. The notion of learning as human development or human becoming involves understanding oneself appropriately, shifts in each individual’s ways of being in the world that are more suited to his/her nature and dispositions, embedding in a web of relationships with the self and others (Arendt, 1958), as well as acting in accordance with each person’s specific missions in the world.

In this way, we are beginning to see that learning through narrative encounter has transformative potential. In fact, scholars could challenge us by saying: look, transformative theorists have been exploring the narrative dimensions of transformative learning. So is narrative learning merely new jargon? Or does it work differently from what is being theorised as transformative learning? If so, then how?

In order to respond to these questions, a brief review of transformative learning theories is useful before exploring how life narratives can facilitate learning that is transformational, but not necessarily fall within the confines of transformative learning theory. There is no space here to compare the similarities and differences between narrative learning and transformative learning and we will leave the discussion of their respective conceptual premises for another opportunity. However, we feel it necessary to place narrative learning and transformative learning next to each other, even if only briefly, in order to construct a theory of narrative pedagogy that aims to facilitate the learner’s holistic growth as a human being. 

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Narrative Pedagogy
  • Date of publication: 01/01/2011
  • Number of pages (as Word doc): 174
  • Publisher: Peter Lang
  • Co-author: Scherto R. Gill
  • Subject:
    Narrative Theory
  • Available in:
  • Appears in:
    Narrative Pedagogy
  • Number of editions: 1
  • Paperback
  • Price of book: £20.00
  • ISBN: 978-1-4331-0891-4
  • Buy used and new from: Amazon UK