The art of listening to stories

Any fact or event, according to Alasdair MacIntyre, “becomes intelligible by finding its place in a narrative” (1981, p.196). And yet, developing the tool of narrative has tended to receive less attention than developing logical skills, which are seen to be more productive. But they are not separate chunks of our minds; logical skills need the development of narrative tools to be used most effectively.
Learning to follow a narrative is a vital intellectual accomplishment. Efficiently following a narrative means being able to allot significance, recognize what is important, fit parts together from textual clues, construct emotional meaning while registering events and facts, recognizing sequences through emotions despite logical gaps in a narrative, and a range of other intellectual skills. As Northrop Frye put a related point: “The art of listening to stories is a basic training for the imagination” (1963, p.49). Being able to follow a narrative is crucial for efficient learning and understanding of almost any topic in the curriculum. It also enhances our manipulation of possibilities – which is what enables students to apply something learned in one context to another.” (p.100)

“…instead of thinking of our lessons and units as sets of objectives we hope to attain, we can think of them as good narratives with which we hope to engage students’ imaginations and emotions.” (p.99)

Egan suggests “that the story [is] crucial in early learning because it was the tool that enables us to bring curriculum content and emotion together to make knowledge more fully meaningful to the student.” (p.99)

Ref: (emphases in blue bold mine) Kieran Egan (c2005) An Imaginative Approach to Teaching. Jossey-Bass: San Fransisco

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About backyardbooks

This blog is a kind of electronic storage locker for ideas and quotes that inform my research... literary research into fiction for young adults (with a special focus on New Zealand fiction). Kiwis are producing amazing literature for younger readers, but it isn't getting the academic appreciation it deserves. I hope readers of this blog can make use of the material I gather and share by way of promoting our fiction. Cheers!
This entry was posted in Metaphors and Narratives around children and learners, Understanding literacy and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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