Story as Process: Storytelling in Adult Education and Community Development 
Monday, July 9, 2007, 11:26 AM - Adult and Popular Education
Olga Gladkikh and Nanci Lee
Coady International Institute

Paper Presented at the Storytelling Symposium
Department of Languages and Letters
Cape Breton University
June 8-9, 2007

The object of the storyteller is to enable the listeners
to discover the truth themselves.
–Stephen Denning

In the field of community development, storytelling and oral testimonies are recognized by adult educators, activists and practitioners as powerful tools to help people make meaning out of their lived lives. Stories are often used to share individual and group histories, to form new connections, and to reinforce or even challenge local knowledge and assumptions. At best, stories can be used to push against existing power structures by raising individual consciousness and building a sense of agency for collective action. Stories, however, can also be used in narrow, instrumental ways to simply illustrate a concept or introduce the benefits of learning a skill. In this sense, stories are little more than tools reinforcing existing power dynamics.

This paper highlights the use of story in capacity building and community development work. One case draws from the use of storytelling in co-operative inquiry seminars involving a diverse, multi-cultural community of participants attending the Coady International Institute in Canada. The other case uses narrative in financial literacy training in India and Angola. The cases explore how storytelling can be a powerful pedagogical springboard to both individual change and group action. Fascinating issues of power and voice are examined, as well as the misconceptions and misuses of narrative. Ultimately, the cases seek to reinforce the valid uses in order to strengthen and legitimize the role of story in pedagogical contexts.

Please contact me if you are interested in a copy of the paper.

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