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HOW STORYTELLING AND ORAL HISTORY CAN CREATE A MOST SIGNIFICANT CHANGE! J. Cynthia McDermott Ed.D. Fred Chapel Ed.D. Antioch University Los Angeles.

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Presentation on theme: "HOW STORYTELLING AND ORAL HISTORY CAN CREATE A MOST SIGNIFICANT CHANGE! J. Cynthia McDermott Ed.D. Fred Chapel Ed.D. Antioch University Los Angeles."— Presentation transcript:

1 HOW STORYTELLING AND ORAL HISTORY CAN CREATE A MOST SIGNIFICANT CHANGE! J. Cynthia McDermott Ed.D. Fred Chapel Ed.D. Antioch University Los Angeles

2 More than 50 years ago, Eliot Wigginton, better known as “Wig”, a high school English teacher in rural Georgia, struck on a brilliant idea. He asked his students what they might like to learn. On one of the bleakest fall days of 1966, he walked into his first-period class, sat down on top of his desk, crossed his legs and said very slowly and very quietly, “Look, this isn’t working. You know it isn’t and I know it isn’t. Now what are we going to do together to make it through the rest of this year?” This conversation led to the creation of what has became known as the “Foxfire Approach.”

3 The Foxfire Approach 1. From the beginning, learner choice, design, and revision infuses the work teachers and learners do together. 2. The work teachers and learners do together clearly manifests the attributes of the academic disciplines involved, so those attributes become habits of mind. 3. The work teachers and students do together enables learners to make connections between the classroom work, the surrounding communities, and the work beyond their communities. 4. The teacher serves as facilitator and collaborator. 5. Active learning characterizes classroom activities.

4 The Foxfire Approach 6. The learning process entails imagination and creativity. 7. Classroom work includes peer teaching, small group work, and teamwork. 8. The work of the classroom serves audiences beyond the teacher, thereby evoking the best efforts by the learners and providing feedback for improving subsequent performances. 9. The work teachers and learners do together includes rigorous, ongoing assessment and evaluation. 10. Reflection, an essential activity, takes place at key points throughout the work.

5 The Foxfire approach created a new sense of awareness in the community and provided the student story collector with a level of authority and respect that they had never experienced. And it created a great deal of trust between the storyteller and story gatherer that the story would be told truthfully and ethically. The story became collaborative as the owner of the story gifted it to the individual who retold it.

6 Cultural Journalism A cultural journalist explores events within his culture. He or she examines the cultural, societal and community context in which a broad range of things happen. A cultural journalist explores currents within society, and draws conclusions. Cultural Journalism is an examination of ourselves. It is also about traditions: identifying them, writing about them and keeping them alive. (Hare)

7 Storytelling A need to tell and hear stories is essential to the species Homo sapiens – second in necessity apparently after nourishment and before love and shelter. Millions survive without love or home, almost none in silence; the opposite of silence leads quickly to narrative, and the sound of story is the dominant sound of our lives, from the small accounts of our day's events to the vast incommunicable constructs of psychopaths. (Price)

8 Storytelling The community that Wigginton’s students interviewed began to see the importance of the oral tradition of storytelling and the value of casting a light on the accomplishments, big and small, of ordinary people. “’Ordinary’ is a word I loathe. It has a patronizing air. I have come across ordinary people who have done extraordinary things.” (Terkel)

9 Most Significant Change The Most Significant Change Technique (MSC) was created utilizing a story-telling process that attempted to find a way to create an interactive assessment process that would engage participants who were part of a change process in the evaluation aspect.

10 Most Significant Change Stories are a valuable part of MSC for several reasons: they encourage non-evaluation experts to participate, they are likely to be remembered as a complex whole, and they can help keep dialogue based on concrete outcomes rather than abstract indicators. (Davies)

11 Most Significant Change It is not surprising that this process can be quite helpful in assessing student or project work and can in fact provide us with quite useful assessments that are more significant than any standardized test.

12 Growth over Time Rather than a simple-minded, scripted response to a constraining prompt, the candidates fully accept the opportunity to share deeper insights and personal perspectives about the connection they feel with the content, the community, and with themselves as learners.

13 Growth over Time As the MSC and the Foxfire Core Practices further invade the pre-service classrooms of AULA, it remains to be seen what these will accomplish. Based on current feedback, several things are evident. Candidates have multiple ways to share their individual voice and perspective Candidates are encouraged to be critical viewers of themselves and the program and have multiple ways to be expressive Candidates are encouraged to find their stories and share them Candidates are encouraged to work in their community to create change.

14 References Davies, R. and Dart, J. (2005). The Most Significant Change Technique; A Guide to Its Use. Retrieved from Hare, D. (1992). A Cultural Journalist’s View of City Life. In Reading and Writing the City Vol. III. Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute. Retrieved April from ml Price, R. (1978). A Palpable God. New York: Atheneum Terkel, S. (2007). Touch and Go: A Memoir. New York: The New Press


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