Thursday, January 17, 2008

I Don't Know How I Became the Kind of Person Who Gets Into Arguments Over the Definition of Words

My response to Dan Meyer's response:

The annual report contest is not the main thrust of my post. It is a supporting detail. It is also possible that I’m making too much of a connection between your philosophical blogging and pedagogical philosophy and practice. That is, I don’t care what you and your peers do for fun, but I’m interested in teaching and learning, and I’m an English teacher.

So when a math teacher starts talking about teaching “storytelling,” he’s coming into the English teacher’s wheelhouse, and if his definition of “storytelling” is very different than what is used in humanities education, well, that deserves some analysis.

So you say: “My point is that, if you know how to tell a precise, articulate, and moving story, if you know how to build intrigue about a character in the first act, how to lull your audience into a happy, contented place in the second act, only to punch them precisely in the gut in the third, you have this fantastic skill which applies absolutely EVERYwhere.”

This is explicitly and intentionally about a manipulative author using narrative as a persuasive technique. There is a place for this, but I would argue that it is not central. Students should understand this approach, but it is dangerous, because ultimately it is not about truth or, at least, accuracy.

The more common usage of “storytelling” in education is similar to this one: “What best describes our approach is its emphasis on personal voice and facilitative teaching methods. Many of the stories made in our workshops are directly connected to the images collected in life’s journey. But our primary concern is encouraging thoughtful and emotionally direct writing.”

No comments: