For our lives and for our students we must remember that story is central to our identity and our understanding of the world around us. We process our lives and represent ourselves to others through the stories we tell. This concept isn’t earth shattering or new to many people but it is sad that so often these stories are shut out of the classroom curriculum.
For my Early Childhood Education class we are reading “Places of Curriculum Making: Narrative Inquiries into Children’s Lives in Motion” by J. Huber, M. Murphy and D. Clandinin. The first chapter of this book suggests that we should refocus our classrooms onto the teacher and students stories and allow the curriculum to flow out of this shared narrative. Instead of privileging the formal school knowledge we would see students as knowledgeable individuals and ask them to share their knowledge with their peers. This worldview also makes it possible to view the students lives outside of the classroom as rich in learning experiences. Families are then seen as powerful learning communities and partners with the school and teacher. When students stories are heard and they are known as individuals many of the concerns about oppressive educational practices can be addressed. When the knowledge they bring to the classroom is valued then the classroom becomes a place where multiple worldviews can be heard and seen. Acknowledging our students power as story tellers and curriculum makers can actually become a powerful pedagogy of change and anti-oppresive education. A classroom that gives room for all to share their stories, to be heard and known is intrinsically different from classrooms where only the teacher has knowledge and only that knowledge is valued and shared.
I am new to this journey and I am not sure how to balance the requirements that are imposed on me as a teacher through the formal curriculum and standardized assessment with the desire I have to implement a child centred curriculum. How do I ensure my students meet the standards set while still taking time to listen to their stories and honour their needs? Are these two worldviews as opposite as they feel to me?
I know it’s not fair to end a blog post with questions but I don’t have answers to these questions yet. I’d welcome any feedback.