When I was working on my master’s degree, I had a professor that made me crazy. She was into the type of qualitative research that is known as Narrative Inquiry. I called it story time. This very well respected, brilliant lady almost made me pull the little hair I had left, out. People in her classes that understood her and what she stood for laughed and cried together, knew each other for years, and seemed to be working together to get their degrees done.
I felt like an outsider.
But now I listen to stories. Now I wonder about the stories we tell about our classrooms, our schools, and our lives. The stories we tell, tell us a lot about what we believe. Our lives are filled with these stories about what we believe education should be. All of the stories we have internalized about what schools are "like" inform our practices deeply. Our students and their parents have these same stories. They are often framed as expectations, but they are stories. "Schools teach kids how to read, write, and do math" is a powerful story. "Kids sit in rows, are quiet, the teacher tells them what to learn and how to do it" is a story which shapes our classrooms.
We need to write new stories about education and about what we want it to be. How do we tell stories about kids constructing powerful knowledge from pursuing a course they are interested in? How do we make these stories about learning and not about history? How do we get our stories "out there" for parents and politicians to hear?