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    Teaching with and through Stories: Exploring Identities with Children using Narrative Approaches

    Gibson, David (2021) Teaching with and through Stories: Exploring Identities with Children using Narrative Approaches. Masters thesis, National University of Ireland Maynooth.

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    The purpose of this self-study action research project (ARP) was to improve my teaching about identities, with identities and for identities while working with children using narrative interventions. I felt my teaching was pitched at a passive or deductive level and did not reflect my values of inclusion, student voice and identity representation within education. I was a student who received an education where not all identities where represented. In fact, many identities were discouraged and forced to be silenced. I truly believe that the vision for education has changed and with the right attitude, hard-work and correct teaching methods, the classroom can become a more inclusive and safe learning environment. Stories and narratives have long been used as a method to develop a young child’s imagination, engagement, and language and that is why I decided to apply it to my teaching of identity. This approach allowed me to critically reflect on identity development through the idea of the situated self. It enabled me, and the children to engage critically with the concept allowing us to recognise ourselves as individuals shaped by experiences, beliefs, and understandings not only in education, but in the wider world in which education is situated. Therefore, the notion of narrative identity provided the backdrop to my critical reflections. This research was conducted online with various educational professionals and academics as well as in person in an urban, co-educational Educate Together national school in Ireland which places a strong emphasis on inclusion. The twenty-eight 2nd class children in my care, various educational professionals and academics, as well as my critical friend all acted as participants in the research, with me and my practice as its focus. My chosen methodology was self-study action research as it is a form of educational research that allows the researcher to put himself at the forefront of the study. I adopted a qualitative approach to data-gathering including student interviews post interventions, interviews with academics and professionals from various educational backgrounds, daily observations and recording my evolving thoughts, opinions, and mindset in my reflective journal. I conducted the research in accordance with ethical research principles in mind while maintaining a commitment to validity and reliability demonstrated within the process of triangulation. My narrative interventions were influenced by Hegarty (2007, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016,), Jenny Mosley’s (1996) and Winslade & Monk’s (1999) work on narrative approaches to childhood development. It used a story-telling or narrative approach to explore the various identities children may express. There was a focus on open dialogue, questioning and creating professional links with academic involvement. The findings revealed the importance of affirmation, teacher identity and power as central in the negotiation of identities and its representation in classroom settings. A clear desire to enhance the teaching about and with identities from the Social Personal Health Education, better known as the S.P.H.E. (1999) curriculum was evident from the professional interviews as well as emerging evidence of the effectiveness of using narratives throughout the school day. I concluded that through my practice of using narrative approaches I can increase meaningful engagement in learning about identities for students and teachers alike. Further to this, the research highlighted the opportunity of using narrative interventions to learn more about the students beyond their role as a learner. As a self-study process this research has had a profound effect on my own practice and understanding as I am more committed to teaching for, with and about identities with children. How I now teach for, with and about identities aligns more closely with my personal and pedagogical values of inclusion, student voice and identity representation as I am now committed to providing time and spaces where children’s stories can be articulated, heard and responded to throughout their educational journey.

    Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
    Keywords: Teaching; Stories; Exploring Identities; Children; Narrative Approaches; Department of Primary and Early Childhood Education;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Social Sciences > Froebel Department of Primary and Early Childhood Education
    Item ID: 15163
    Depositing User: IR eTheses
    Date Deposited: 20 Dec 2021 14:12
      Use Licence: This item is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike Licence (CC BY-NC-SA). Details of this licence are available here

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