Storytellers: Women crafting new knowing and better worlds
Wiessner, C.A. (2005). Storytellers: Women crafting new knowing and better worlds. Convergence, 38(4), 101-119.
This narrative study documents the benefits of using creative arts-based storytelling methods to engage adult learners who face histories of stalled educational achievement. The study focused on the methodologies employed by five women educators, termed “emancipator adult educators.” These women work to address social, economic and/or political issues within their communities, thus acting as facilitators of learning and agents for change. These women worked collaboratively with the researcher to document the value of utilizing art-based storytelling as a catalyst for change, while using these methods to transform their students’ views of themselves into one of educational success. The study found that storytelling can enhance community understanding and be a catalyst in realizing lasting social and political change.
The study found that:
- Storytelling can trigger imagination as a tool for envisioning change and can be a catalyst in realizing lasting social and political change.
- Storytelling can be utilized to highlight connections and enhance the understanding of the community and the self.
- Three significant dimensions emerged in the work of the educators:
Holistic and cyclical nature of narrative practices. While seemingly disparate initially, the findings showed that the educators’ purposes (emancipatory education moving toward social and political change and practices) were interrelated. The goals of the work influence the genre of story used.
Dialectics of blending narrative and analytic processes. Educators in this study blended narrative and analytic methods.
Dual-natured practice: Educators worked actively to shape culture, modeling how to move beyond limitations to make change.
The study unearthed a cyclical structure, which is inherent in the work of educators working as arts-based storytellers. The study stressed the importance of beginning any project with preliminary research that roots the project in a community’s history and moved on to emphasize analyzing the responses received after the presentation of a narrative in order to formulate action within the community, ultimately coming full circle and producing change in the community’s history.
- This study demonstrated the importance of balancing the analytical aspects of the creative process in relation to the actual presentation and action to promote change.