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The Danger of Single Stories / Narrative Inquiry  

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kurt thumlert
(@kthumlert)
Admin

In the readings from this week, we explored the dangers of single stories (where single or dominant or colonizing narratives work like ideological or hegemonic systems).

Both King and Aidichie caution us about the stories we tell, and the stories we are told (and the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves and about others). Leggo speaks to these same issues, and also offers lenses and techniques for both creating and interpreting stories (viz. honouring complexity, multiplicity and mystery) and for narrative inquiry as a research method.

1) My first (possible) question to you is: How do these texts speak to one another, as well as speak to other theoretical texts we have read this semester, for example: to the New London Group's call for student agency, re/design and 'critical framing'; to Doer-Stevens discussion of embodied inquiry and the necessarily 'messy process' of inquiry and creation; to Smith's discussion of the "city text"; to Mitchell's et al discussion of "complexity pedagogy"; to Brayboy & Maughan's "Story of the Bean", to our recent readings on digital storytelling / media in the refugee context

Consider using Leggo's style of integrating quotes as a model, go back to your favourite readings this semester and do what Leggo does (in terms of integrating electric passages and 'polyphonic' voices). 

2) Other threads to take up if you wish...

 If narrative is a kind of technology, what common narratives or stories inform our understanding of digital technologies and technologies of/for learning in schools (or outside of them)?

• How do we position ourselves within the research stories we tell (about others)?
• How do stories and representations about ‘others’ serve the purposes of those who create or curate the stories? (see Reel Injun and Aidichie).
• Implications for curriculum and pedagogy: How might narrative inquiry work in pedagogy, teaching and learning? Can composing stories transform a life, or our lives? How? Under what conditions? 

Please take this thread anywhere you wish...or start your own fresh TOPIC thread if you wish...

This topic was modified 3 months ago 2 times by kurt thumlert
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Posted : 13/03/2020 9:42 pm
Kassahun
(@kassahun)
EDUC 5855

I find strong connections between Leggo’s article, Narrative Inquiry: Honoring the Complexity of the Stories We Live, Adichie’s, the danger of a single story and indeed Thomas King's great idea. To begin with, Leggo who strongly believes in stories to represent people’s lived experiences. Accordingly, he argues that “As I write and tell the narratives of my experiences, and as I read and listen to the narratives of others, I need to be careful that I do not misrepresent the complexity of the experiences” (Leggo, 2004, p.6). In doing so, he not only responds to Thomas King’s quote but also strengthening it.  Besides, Thomas King’s idea that goes, “His truth about stories quote that goes: “The truth about stories is, that’s all we are… You have to be careful with the stories you tell. And you have to watch out for the stories that you are told… stories are wondrous things. And they are dangerous.”, can strongly be linked with Adichie’s, the danger of a single story, as she comes to question her mother as she said “The only thing my mother told us about him was that his family was very poor” referring to Fide, a new house boy. “All I had heard about them is how poor they were so that it had become impossible for me anything else but poor. Their poverty was my single story of them.” That was after Fide’s mother showed her a beautifully patterned basket. On the other hand, Thomas King’s idea reminds me of the historical injustices and prejudices my people suffered in the hands of the ruling Amhara elites and the so-called European scholars’ of the late 19th and 20th centuries where the Amhara elites were not careful in the stories they had passed to others about my people and the European writers of the time, like Herbert S. Lewis and others, in turn, failed to watch out what they were told too. 

For instance, during empire-building in Ethiopia the history of the Oromo, the largest ethnic group in that country, which I hailed from, has been neglected and completely distorted. Since the creation of the modern Ethiopian empire from the 1880s, historians have chosen to ignore Oromo, who, for political reasons, was portrayed as “Newcomers” to Ethiopia generally considered as people “Without history”. But the truth of the matter was that the Oromo were not only one of the indigenous peoples of Ethiopia, but also that they had their fascinating history, culture, religion, and political institution.  However, the successive Ethiopian ruling class from the Amhara tribe also gave Oromo the name “Galla”. The name ‘Galla’ used especially by the Amhara ruling class depicts the Oromo as a newcomer, an immigrant or an invader as Lewis (1966) asserts his baseless allegation against the Oromo that goes, ‘The ‘Galla’ invasion of Ethiopia in the 16th century’ (pg. 27). Indeed one example of a single story towards my people over the last few centuries only to make them aliens in the land they had lived for generations. It is also important to note that the Oromo people never wanted to be called ‘Galla’ and regarded it as Pejorative removed link Lastly, I have come across many quotes in Leggo’s  article where I have only picked these two: Winterson’s (1995) that goes, “A writer must resist the pressure of old formulae and work towards new formulation of language, and Clandinin and Connelly’s (2000) that goes, “Narrative inquiry is a way of understanding experience”

 References

Adichie, C. N. (2009). The danger of a single story.

Leggo, C. (2004). Narrative Inquiry: Honouring the Complexity of the Stories We Live. Brock education. a journal of educational research and practice, 14(1).

Lewis, H. (1966). The origins of the Galla and the Somalis. The Journal of African Studies.  <a href=" removed link "> removed link

This post was modified 3 months ago by Kassahun
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Posted : 14/03/2020 11:53 am
vimab78
(@vima)
EDUC 5855

If narrative is a kind of technology, what common narratives or stories inform our understanding of digital technologies and technologies of/for learning in schools (or outside of them)?

How do we position ourselves within the research stories we tell (about others)? 

If narrative is a kind of technology, then I think we must position ourselves within research stories we tell about others, as the learners or persons willing to engage in and investigate the conversation at hand. For example, if I was teaching my students about the Indigenous Residential School Experiences in relation to Orange Shirt Day, I wouldn’t go in with the disposition of the expert, I would go in as someone who wants to learn more about what happened historically and its implications for the current Indigenous communities. It’s important that we understand that each story, each voice, each experience, especially from those who have not been represented in the media, adds a new dimension to the discussion, and they are valued. If we are modelling this attitude with our students, we are also showing them how to be critical of the stories that are told in the media. We are showing them that we are not just going to be satisfied with one or two stories, but that we are interested in inquiring more than what we have already heard or learned about in the past. This, I think, links back with what Thomas King said about the dangers of stories that we are told and that we tell others. It’s really just us being cognizant of the fact that we might be telling someone else’s story from a position of privilege, or a position of someone who is just learning about the narrative.

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Posted : 14/03/2020 10:01 pm
kurt thumlert
(@kthumlert)
Admin
Posted by: @kassahun

Indeed one example of a single story towards my people over the last few centuries only to make them aliens in the land they had lived for generations

Posted by: @vima

. It’s really just us being cognizant of the fact that we might be telling someone else’s story from a position of privilege, or a position of someone who is just learning about the narrative.

I think Kassahun's story above really resonates with what Vima is saying below, as there are clear connections between how Indigenous peoples were "historicized" in North America and how the Oromo people were "historicized". In both cases, communities and nations were made "aliens" in the land they had lived in for generations (see below).

Posted by: @kassahun

to make them aliens in the land they had lived for generations

When it comes to Vima's point, yes: we need to invite indigenous actors to speak, use literature and art created by indigenous authors (there ton's of top-notch literature and art out there - and these works are CONTEMPORARY): maybe the most "dangerous story", perhaps, is speaking of indigenous people(s) in the past tense - be them in North America or in Ethiopia.

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Posted : 15/03/2020 10:03 pm
Abulogn
(@abulogn)
EDUC 5855

Having gone through this video and analyzes the key messages it gave me a good understanding which is better than before when I watch during my time in the undergraduate programme. The single story is a single-sided perception of other individuals for instance Africans.  I realize from the talk of how people misunderstood the concept of brotherhood, tradition, and culture of people living around the globe. She also explains that many people see things as what was taught to them. To explain the statement further, she says that her roommate felt sympathy for her and couldn’t believe that she could afford the middle-class life of American citizens since she thought that all Africans came from poverty backgrounds and suffers the revolutionary wars grounded in Africa (Adichie, 2013). The reason why Adiche’s roommate believed that is because of the picture posted in her mind by what was referred to as the African literature in America. Chimamanda further explains how she was a victim of the single story concerning Mexicans. She says that she was surprised by the fact that Mexicans were different from the picture that was painted on them according to immigration concerns during her trip to Guadalajara. Surprisingly, she also gives details on how an American Professor in college who denied her literature as African since it lacked abusive and other characteristics that an African story should contain. The professor believes in that because he has fallen victim to the single story (Adichie, 2013). She concludes that there are various distinct models to each aspect of life and ethnicity is one of the models for her experiences. She also enlightens the audience that people view only one side of things and believe in it unless someone else or a situation reveals the things to them differently. In conclusion, Adiche outlines the sociological beliefs that are held by one community about the other especially Africans. People are living with the literature that existed about Africans in the 16th century and still believe that that is how the 21st century Africans are. Therefore she suggests that the remedy to the picture painted about Africans and other ethnic groups is by showing a different explanation of the real story.

 

 

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Posted : 16/03/2020 11:32 am
Seraphin uwizeye
(@seraphin-uwizeye)
EDUC 5855

It is true that with the single stories people or the audience cannot have the reality of a community, society, nation, or even the truth about the entire continent. Always there is a danger and the danger will never end as long as we continue to tell single-story and hear on them without doing further investigations. This is the case of Chimamanda Adichie in her narrative when her mother told her about the life of Fide their house boy’s life. It is Fide’s family were poor but they were able to do other special things that people could admire including Adichie herself that admired the beautiful basket that she saw during the visit to Fide’s family. I agree with Chimamanda that stories can break the dignity of people, but also the same story can be used to repair that broken dignity.

As Carl Leggo said that “Wherever there are humans there appear to be stories. ((Cobley, 2001), Leggo, 2004, pg.97) Stories are with us and they are in us. All human beings have stories regardless of their positions, culture, religion, nationality, language...etc. What is needed is to know how to control and direct our thoughts when telling or narrating stories because our listeners will carry them and narrate them to others. You can now imagine how many people may listen to our stories from generation to generation.

This is what Thomas the king was emphasizing in his writings that “So you have to be careful with the stories you tell. And you have to watch out for the stories that you are told” (Thomas,2003, pg. 10). Here it is the naked truth that our stories always have open or hidden lessons to our listeners. That is why before telling a story one must analyze it and understand it first to avoid the problem of single stories as Adichie warned us. I conquer with Thomas the King who stated that “Stories are wondrous things. And they are dangerous” (Thomas,2003, pg. 9). None can deny this reality! In fact, what he said must be agreed by all without questions because it is true.

These are some instances; 1st; Christians believe the story of the creation and all great stories found in the holly Bible, especially the death and the resurrection of Jesus the Son of God while to none Christians, it is a dream to them. 2nd; Many people tell a single story of Somalis in Dadaab that are terrorist while for us who are living with them we know that in that community there are generous and innocent persons. 3rd; When narrating the story from what one had heard or seen from news about the story of Rwanda people, great care must be taken because there is one single story about what happened in Rwanda. Instead of jumping and start narrating by judging and condemning one tribe and making the other one holly as many do when relating about the Rwandese stories, research must have carried out first and then narrating stories follow.

Therefore, to my views all the readings (articles, Videos, Story of the Bean", our recent readings on digital storytelling/media in the refugee context) have one goal; to straighten everyone by showing him/her that there is something in everyone that can help others. Everyone’s experience matters and newcomers may become expert by the guidance of veterans. Also, they emphasized on teaching by examples than theories. In fact, learners can do better when they are learning by practising their knowledge on which digital learning is best to offer such opportunities in the most forgotten spaces like Dadaab refugee camp and in many other parts of the world that are still behind than Dadaab.

 REFERENCES

Adichie, C. N. (2009). The danger of a single story.

King, T. (2003) The truth about stories: a native narrative (cubic Massey lectures series) sib 978-0-88784-696-0

Leggo, C. (2004). Narrative Inquiry: Honouring the Complexity of the Stories We Live. Brock education. a journal of educational research and practice, 14(1).

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Posted : 16/03/2020 1:12 pm
MelissaS
(@melissas)
EDUC 5855

Leggo (2004) stated, “One of the challenges that narrative researchers confront is how to compose a story that represents experiences truthfully while also acknowledging that in all our narrative research we can never tell the whole story” (p. 97-98). I think this quote is extremely important in relation to narratives and the danger of a single story. I think that there are always multiple sides to a story, but how the story is presented and which viewpoint is highlighted can impact how we think of a situation. We see this every day in work, school, history, media, etc. Even in situations as simple as dealing with arguments/ disagreements that happen in the classroom. Students are very quick to share what they believe happened but then you speak with other students involved and more of the story comes out. I always make a point to tell my students that there is more than one story and we need to address all of them to fully understand what happened. We also saw this idea in the TedTalk as @Kassahun mentioned with Fide. The mother identified him as poor and for that reason, he was looked at a certain way. This created a biased opinion of Fide until he created something beautiful that changed how he was viewed. However, had he not been labelled as poor from day one, the situation may have been very different and changed the story. The danger of the single story is the it leads to misrepresentation of the other stories that may be involved. For narrative researchers, their job is increasingly difficult because they have to be cognizant of the different parts that are involved in the story and try to research all the different angles that are necessary to understand the whole story while also understanding their own viewpoint and how that may change the story. With all the differing pieces that come together in a narrative, I wonder, can we ever truly tell the whole story?

References

Leggo, C. (2005). Narrative Inquiry: Honouring the Complexity of the Stories We Live, Brock Educational Journal, 14(1).

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Posted : 16/03/2020 9:13 pm
Abulogn
(@abulogn)
EDUC 5855

@vima

Yes, Vima. You right, I think the concept you raised is so important, and in teaching what is more important is to have space where we can learn from our students. For instance, getting into class as part of the students will always give a chance to learn more from your students not only that they can openly share their feeling and experiences. More importantly, giving them time to share their part of history. As you mentioned, it makes them critically think about how they can best present their stories.

 

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Posted : 16/03/2020 9:35 pm
Bernardo C.
(@bwcardona)
EDUC 5855

I am first going to talk about my favorite quote that came out of the video ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9Ihs241zeg ) by Adichie. The quote is by a Palestinian poet Mourid Barghouti, who writes "...that if you want to dispossess a people, the simplest way to do it is to tell their story and to start with, 'secondly.' Start the story with the arrows of the Native Americans and not with the arrival of the British, and you have an entirely different story..." (Timestamp 10:21). This was such a powerful quote to me, as it is very simple but is clear to its meaning. The story told by one person will be twisted to become their own tale. In class, we discussed the difference between a 'story' and 'plot'. Where a story should be a series of events in the order that they originally appeared, while the plot is the same series of events purposely arranges to tell a tale with some sort of meaning to the speaker. Many times we take these plots as the true story and do not wonder or even consider the other side of the story. 

I think that @kassahun, found a perfect quote as well to talk about the dangers of a single story:

Posted by: @kassahun

Accordingly, he argues that “As I write and tell the narratives of my experiences, and as I read and listen to the narratives of others, I need to be careful that I do not misrepresent the complexity of the experiences” (Leggo, 2004, p.6).

I think this is relevant for the course and experiences that we are sharing right now as well. I am hearing lots of stories and experiences from my peers in the BHER program. I am very excited and fortunate to be able to listen to these narratives, as it is usual for most people to just learn about the challenges and lifestyles of refugee camps through the media. The fact that there are technology courses, graduate students and so much more to life in these camps to what is portrayed is very shocking. If I search up on google "Refugee Camps" I will get a very clear story of the hardships one may face there, but that is the one and the only story that I get. I am very thankful to be able to hear so many more sides of the story. This is true with the story and mention of the history of the Oromo! That is something that I will be going on a deep dive into to find more information about. Clearly there is a sense of isolation and alienism if you are living in a land where the story is different from what you know to be true. That is something that both Vima and Professor Kurt already mentioned and tackled. I can for sure understand frustration and anger that might arise if I was faced with a similar situation where the story of my family was changed and written off entirely. Thank you for that very real example of a single story in action. 

Lastly, I wanted to bounce off the great point made by @abulogn 

Posted by: @abulogn

I think the concept you raised is so important, and in teaching what is more important is to have space where we can learn from our students.

This is extremely true! It is one of the main reasons I am having a lot of fun with this course (and this forum) as we are able to share and learn from each other experiences. It is also the main reason I enjoy working as a teacher as I am able to share my own experiences and learn from my students. It is never the same, as the class keeps changing and with it a new dynamic between the students and myself. 

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Posted : 16/03/2020 10:03 pm
Isnina Issack
(@issack)
EDUC 5855

   I find great” connections between Lego’s article, Narrative Inquiry: Honoring the Complexity of the Stories and the film, Chimamanda’s, the danger of a single story, both narrative stories spoke about people past experience, how the stories matters the people daily, days lives, as  Chimamanda’s talked about her childhood and adulthood experience and when she experience the real situation about stories told are totally different for example Chimamanda’s use to have single stories about Mexicans during the debate of political climate in the US about immigration that Mexicans as people who were fleecing the healthcare system, sneaking across the border, being arrested at the border that sort of thing and, “immigration became synonymous with Mexicans, but when Chimamanda’s walks around on the first day in Guadalajara she saw that people in Mexico, going to their respective workplaces, smoking, rolling up tortillas in the market place, laughing, etc she remembered her first feeling slight surprise as she said “I was overwhelmed with shame. I realized that I had been so immersed in the media coverage of Mexicans that they had become one thing in my mind, the abject immigrant. I had into the single story of Mexicans and could not have been more ashamed of myself “in these away single stories are always

In connection to the danger of single story (Curl Lego2004) Narrative Inquiry: Honoring the Complexity of the Stories tell us by saying that “there is always far distant of more experience than we can narrate in a complex and wide-ranging experience that each of us live daily” and” we never acknowledging that in all our narrative research then we can never tell the whole story” on ( p.97) it is true that people spoke out of their experience mostly young children at school, but as educator, parents and even leaders it is our responsibilities to tell people the real situation on the ground , they should know that there is more than one story in this world about people, country or even situation it is good to open up before just excepting single story so that people come up with a better solution to their problems.  as Thomas King proofed the headline statement in his article “The truth about stories is, that's all we are…You have to be careful with the stories you tell. And you have to watch out for the stories that you are told… Stories are wondrous things. And they are dangerous.” 

similar to Chimamanda’s and Leggo I personally use to have single-story, white rich been, healthy, have good infrastructures in their countries and have good health facilities but according to current issues about coronavirus where the majority of the victims are people from developed countries and again they are saying it has no medication I, now disbelieved the single stories about developed countries been having everything.

Adichie, C. N. (2009). The danger of a single story.

King, T. (2003) The truth about stories: a native narrative (cubic Massey lectures series) sib 978-0-88784-696-0

Leggo, C. (2004). Narrative Inquiry: Honouring the Complexity of the Stories We Live. Brock education. a journal of educational research and practice, 14(1).

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Posted : 17/03/2020 9:20 am
Sahra10
(@sahra10)
EDUC 5855

nd later moved to the west country as an immigrant. Her graphic novel is full of story that presents experiences of refugees, immigrants might be faced in the host country. Through her book, we clearly understand that how she brought out a means of narrative full of images and pictures and its not always necessary for us to put it down the story in words . while copping up with the situation she faced.the themes she wants to listen to many readers including us the BHER students. Typically, it holds the thread themes or particular focuses throughout the book(story) as it happens and includes reflections of the story and the plot of the narrative. 

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Posted : 17/03/2020 9:30 am
NancyTH
(@nancyth)
EDUC 5855

@melissas

I have been thinking a lot about the question you pose, on whether we can ever really understand the full story. I do not believe that there is an answer, but perhaps there is meaning in our pursuit for the search of trying to empathize and understand.

It is important though, when searching for meaning and understanding, to think about Leggos (2005) notions of positionality. As educators, I think it is extremely important to reflect on our positionality, particularly when sharing stories about our students, which relates to Kurts original question of "How do we position ourselves within the research stories we tell (about others)?". As Leggo (2005) emphasizes, we have an obligation to listen and tell stories in ways that will sustain the dignity of one another and avoid domination. This is something I am always wrestling with as an educator, to provide opportunities for students to share their stories but also ensure that you are not guiding them to the "correct" way of telling it. This relates to the bias that comes into narrative sharing, who is the best person to speak to the narratives of certain spaces? For instance, for a long time I did not speak about my experiences in Jane and Finch, because I thought that it was a story that didn't reflect the true essence of the community. However, a story, is still a story nonetheless. "Stories inevitably demand ethical understanding. There is no such thing as just a story. A story is always charged with meaning, otherwise it is not a story, merely a sequence of events." (Leggo, 2005). Has anyone else also felt that they should not be the ones sharing their stories or experiences because perhaps their conceptions were different than a wider narrative or they were afraid they were not the "right" person to share the story? (kind of a loaded question) 

 

References

Leggo, C. (2005). Narrative Inquiry: Honouring the Complexity of the Stories We Live, Brock Educational Journal, 14(1).

 

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Posted : 17/03/2020 1:31 pm
Isnina Issack
(@issack)
EDUC 5855

Hi, @seraphin-uwizeye I conquer with you that  Stories are with us and they are in us. All human beings have stories regardless of their positions, culture, religion, nationality, language , but we need to educate people on not to rely on single stories about the persons , continue religion, etc

 

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Posted : 17/03/2020 1:37 pm
kurt thumlert
(@kthumlert)
Admin
Posted by: @nancyth

Has anyone else also felt that they should not be the ones sharing their stories or experiences because perhaps their conceptions were different than a wider narrative or they were afraid they were not the "right" person to share the story? (kind of a loaded question) 

Yes, and I think ANY time a researcher goes into a community (not their own) to do inquiry, they need to consider the ethics of methods representations and also if and how the community can benefit from the research intervention (this statement must be in a York ethics/research application).

As Kassahun pointed out, colonial historians went to Ethiopa and totally re-authored history in ways that served colonial purposes. 

So, Leggo gives us a kind of ethical map for doing narrative inquiry, and note the importance of positionality. The OTHER thing (as an educator) is to support your students to tell their own story (so you don't have to). But that is clear in your statement.

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Posted : 17/03/2020 2:44 pm
akang123
(@akang123)
EDUC 5855

@nancyth

 

I thinking as soon as someone became a narrator of a 'sequence of events,' it cannot be completely subjective. Different people have different thoughts and ideas, and view things in so many different ways. When a person is telling an 'event,' they are going to create a story with their own view either intentionally or unintentionally. I am very careful when I share stories or experiences because sometimes I feel like I am not in the 'right position' to share the experiences. For example, I used to live in Manitoba many years ago and when other people ask me about the experience (with or without stereotype of Manitoba), I am very careful with what I say because I might have different narrative than what they are think the place is; and listening to my narrative can change (or create) their view about that experience. 

 

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Posted : 17/03/2020 11:03 pm
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