The Political Nuances of Narratives and an Urban Educator's Response
Pearman II, F. Alvin
In recent years, theorists have begun to explore the ways in which the narratives our children read influence the democratic ideals we wish to impart. In a nation so stratified along both racial and socioeconomic lines with a long history of various forms of systemic oppression, this issue is particularly relevant to how children in the most inequitable learning environments, situated in the most marginalized communities, come to see and know how to effect social change. In order to begin an investigation into the ways in which our democracy is conveyed through various forms of storytelling, this paper will interrogate the narrative space of children’s literature with particular focus on the American civil rights movement. The question that will guide this examination will concern the implicit and explicit ways that differing narrative types promote or hinder central ideals of democracy. Based on Bell’s (2009) story type framework, I will conceptualize different types of stories as integrated pedagogical, philosophical, and curricular extensions that are produced, consumed, and regulated with specific political purposes in mind. My framework will be grounded in principles of democratic education, social justice education, critical pedagogy, and critical race theory. I will utilize the philosophical underpinnings that constitute this theoretical framework to iteratively insert empirical data to interrogate the thematic composition and narrative structure of the children’s literature discussed. Thus, the central aim of this paper is to explore a conceptual framework from which to illuminate the foundation, purpose, and definition of alternative forms of narratives. Additionally, standards-based exercises that combat and build upon narrative types will be discussed.
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