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Narrative Theory

Narrative Pedagogy

Learning and Narrative Pedagogy

Transformative learning involves experiencing a deep, structural shift in thought, feelings, and actions. It is a shift of consciousness that dramatically and permanently alters each person’s way of being in the world. Mezirow identifies ten phases in perspective transformation (1978, 1995):

  • A disorienting dilemma
  • Self-examination with feelings of guilt or shame
  • A critical assessment of assumptions
  • Recognition that one’s discontent and process of transformation are shared and that others have negotiated a similar change
  • Exploration of options for new roles, relationships, and actions
  • Planning a course of action
  • Acquisition of knowledge and skills for implementing one’s plans
  • Provisionally trying out new roles
  • Building of competence and self-confidence in new roles and relationships
  • A reintegration into one’s life on the basis of conditions dictated by one’s new perspective (summarised in Taylor 1998, p. 4).

Over the last three decades, critiques and further developments in transformative learning theory have created space for educators and researchers to reflect and discuss adult learning in more profound ways. 

The first and foremost challenge to Mezirow’s model concerns critical reflection. According to Mezirow, critical reflection is a process by which we all attempt to justify our beliefs, either by rationally examining assumptions, often in response to intuitively becoming aware that something is wrong with the result of our thoughts, or challenging their validity through discourse with others of differing viewpoints and arriving at the best informed judgment (Mezirow, 1995, p. 46). Critical reflection described in transformative learning theory is heavily embedded in human rationality. We believe that learning perceived in this way risks underestimating the significance of relationships, discursive and dialogic encounters, emotional and spiritual experience, and even the unconsciousness as part of the holistic endeavour that we have so strongly promoted in this book. Recent developments in transformative learning have included the symbolic, the narrative, the mythological, or the soul dimensions (Dirkx, 1997), as well as using (auto)biographies and other personal narratives as learning tools. 

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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