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Narrative Theory

Narrative Pedagogy

Learning and Narrative Pedagogy

Central to the pedagogy for transformative learning is the way in which educators creating opportunities for adult learners to experience disorientation dilemmas, a prerequisite for Mezirow’s transformative learning, for instance, feelings of ambiguity, uncertainty and paradox. It is in this respect that narrative learning takes a different path to transformative learning. Narrative learning does not rely on an experience of disorientation in order to question the premises of one’s values, beliefs, nor is it necessary for a person to feel critical and discontent about his/her own assumptions. Transformation through narrative learning is enhanced understanding about oneself and the other, one’s lived experience as a person overtime, one’s position in the world, and how histories, cultures and socio-political forces have helped shape who we, as human beings were, who we are now, and the journey we have travelled so far and the journey we are to travel together.

Life does not always contain disorientation dilemma and transitions. Much of life is lived in a routinised even mundane key. Whilst narrative learning and pedagogy can sometimes transform, in many other ways it is about consolidating who we are or delineating course of action to reflect our own nature. In other words, narrative learning as a lifelong process, has an open agenda, and narrative learning draws heavily from one’s life and lived experience, as well as depends on the individual’s narrative characters, the nature of their life’s vision, and their life course stage and age. It is not problem-focused and does not intend to resolve dissonances, although narrative pedagogues might find themselves wanting to draw the individual’s attention to the discords and dissonances in his/her accounts as pedagogical leverages. We will elaborate on this later in this chapter.

2. The Spiral process of narrative learning

The question we have been trying to address in this book is in what way narratives can enhance the kind of learning defined above. So far, we have proposed that narrative is an avenue through which we can understand better our lived experience as persons, and imagine ourselves into and articulate the person we are to become. Some authors term this process self-authoring (McAdams, et al, 2006). The metaphor of life as narrative and self-authoring is an attractive one because it enables individuals to enter another’s life and way of being through a textual exchange. Thus Witherell (1995, pp. 40/41) writes:

Narrative allows us to enter empathically into another’s life and being – to join a living conversation. In this sense, it serves as a means of inclusion, inviting the reader, listener, writer, or teller as a companion along on another’s journey. In the process we may find ourselves wiser, more receptive, more understanding, nurtured, and sometimes healed.


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