Local Heroes, Narrative Worlds and the Imagination: The Making of a Moral Curriculum Through Experiential Narratives

Jan. 20, 2008

Source: Curriculum Inquiry, Volume 38 Issue 1, Page 7-37, January 2008.

Concern about the impact of narrative worlds and their heroes offered by the media prompted research on encounters with moral models in experiential, narrative curricula. Researchers tracked the extension of a mandated Language Arts curriculum on "heroes" through the experiential narratives of four local heroes chosen collaboratively by teacher, students and researcher.

They also elicited and analyzed responses from students to these narrative presentations in order to explore how students understood the narrative worlds presented to them. Instead of focusing on the personalities of the speakers, the researchers considered the experiential stories, and the moments of narrative encounter they offered, as the sources of immediate moral impact.

However, this impact, it is suggested, did not adhere to a particular narrative in an undifferentiated manner. Instead, effects varied according to what a particular student brought to the encounter and how he or she was able to experience it.

Material from two students' responses illustrates how they brought their own personal and socio-cultural contexts to the encounter, activating existing dispositions and reinforcing inclinations to behave in certain ways. There was some evidence that the students reconstructed the meaning of events in their lives, were able to interpret their environment in new ways, and constructed visions of possible futures based on this curricular experience.

Updated: Mar. 02, 2008