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Stories as Curriculum

Damon Motz-Storey's picture

Sleeter talks extensively about the vast resource that students themselves provide one another as curriculum. Keenan talks about storytelling as an effective tool to build classroom community and engage students in learning about one anothers' lives. The parallelism is, to me, quite clear: Students' stories help to foster a classroom community but also serve as a curriculum unto themselves. Including student voices in the daily classroom routine, Keenan reflects, improves writing skills and forms bonds both among students and between students and teacher. Students care more about learning when they have a personal connection the material at hand.

I think the best thing that we, as teachers, can do with this information is to continually remind ourselves and each other of the huge learning potential that lies in the lived experiences of the human beings walking through our doors every day. This is why standards, as a concept, are inherently flawed. No single standard is capable of capturing a shared lived experience among thousands of children because thousands of children have thousands of different lived experiences each. I like Keenan's idea of setting up situations where students experience new material and interact with it as a core activity that builds upon previous experience to teach new things. This is, in my opinion, the best way to expose students to the world. It also lines up with Freire's ideal of collaboratively knowing and re-knowing the objects that teachers aim to teach.