19 SES 08 A, Ethnography and New Tools for Teaching and Learning
At international level there was a growing interest in narrative and biographical research methods due to the so-called "narrative turn" (Bruner, 1990) and the tendency to investigate social phenomena and to approach human life as it is lived in a concrete social context (Thompson, 1978). Following Clandinin and Connelly (1994) we can affirm that our life and our life experience is made understandable through stories and the stories are always reinterpreted and updated. Moreover, they represent the fundamental way in which knowledge reveals to us.
The narrative methods have been widely used in social sciences in general (Marinas & Santamarina, 1993; De Miguel, 1996; Bertaux, 1999) and, in the field of education in particular ( see, for example, Goodson (1992) on teachers´ lives and work or Bolivar, Domingo, & Fernandez (2001) on the effects of educational reforms). Also, it was considered a powerful methodology in feminist research, social/ class history, holocaust research and reminiscence/testimony work (Cole and Knowles, 2001). Moreover, international authors as Clandinin and Connelly (1994), Carger (1996), Phillion, (2008) have carried on research with biographical-narrative methodologies focused on the understanding of the educational and social experience of students from migrant background, with emphasis on emerging issues such as teaching English as a second language teaching and learning strategies in multicultural schools, intercultural conflict, the construction of identity and so on.
This paper aims to explore and reflect on the pedagogical potential of the narrative and biographical research methodology in education to illuminate and address issues related with immigration, inclusion and social justice. Our research practice is an approach to understanding the Other, thus our paper reports on a two research projects: 1) the Life History of Shila, young Moroccan boy who, whilst still under-age, was arrested in Spain for drug trafficking. Before completing his two-year rehabilitation process, he began working in a care home for protected minors, initially as a monitor and then as an “educator. 2) the Life History of Mei Ling, a young Spanish girl from a Chinese background and the way in which she interpreted and experienced her the lived experiences, problems and challenges in various social, local and transnational contexts: school, family, community and society in general.
In this particular paper however, we are going to focus on how biographical-narrative methods could contribute to: a) better understand and conceptualize migrant people´s life as embedded in a larger social and economic structure; b) to approach nuanced, complex educational and social experiences of migrant peoples in different social settings and the factors that shaped them; c) to highlight the injustices and the ignored realities usually silenced in the academic discourse (Grumet, 1991).
Our theoretical perspective drew upon international and national research related to social education that advocated and used migrants´ voice and experiences as a foundation to defy discrimination, stereotypes and misconceptions in dealing with people from a migrant background (Griffiths & Troyna, 1995; Nieto, 2000), to respect and legitimize migrant people’ own lives (Freire, 1972) and to improve social and educational practices by listening to what migrant people have to say about their own education, social and personal situation (Sleeter & Grant, 2003; Cook-Satter, 2006).
Bruner, J. (1909). Acts of Meaning. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Bolívar, A, Domingo, J. & Fernández, M. 2001. La investigación biográfica en educación: enfoques y metodología. Madrid: La Muralla. Clandinin, D. J. and Connelly, F. M. (1994). Personal Experience Methods, in Denzin, N.K. and Lincoln, Y. S. (Eds.) Handbook of Qualitative Research, (413 – 427).SAGE Publications. Clark, C. and Rossiter, M. (2006) “Now the pieces are in place…”: Learning through personal storytelling in the adult classroom. New Horizons in Adult Education and Human Resource Development, 20(3): 19-35. Cook-Sather, A. (2006). Sound, Presence, and Power: “Student Voice”, Educational Research and Reform Curriculum Inquiry, 36(4): 359-390. Cole, A. and Knowles, J., G. (2001). (Eds.), Lives in Context. The Art of Life History Research. Walnut Creek: AltaMira Press. De Miguel, J.Mª. (1996). Auto/biografías. Madrid: Centro de Investigaciones Sociológicas. Denzin, N. K. (1989). Interpretative Biography. Sage Publications, Vol. 17. Freire, P. (1972). Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Harmondsworth: Penguin. Goodson, I. F. (1992). Studying teachers’ lives. London: Routledge. Griffiths, M and Troyna, B. (eds). (1995). Antiracism, Culture and Social Justice in Education. Stroke-on-Trent: Trentham. Grumet, M. (1991). The Politics of Personal Knowledge. In Witherel, C. and Noddings, N. (eds.), Stories Lives Tell: Narrative and Dialogue in Education, (67-7). New York: Teachers College Press. Kouritzin, S. (2000). Bringing Life to Research: Life History Research and ESL. TESL Canada Journal,17 (2):1-35. Marinas, J.M. y Santamarina, C. (Comps.). (1993). La historia oral: métodos y experiencias. Madrid: Debate. Nieto, S. (2000). Affirming Diversity. The socio-political context of multicultural education. (3rd Ed.). New York: Longman. Phillion, J. (2008). Multicultural and cross-cultural narrative inquiry into understanding immigrant students' educational experience in Hong Kong', Compare: A journal of comparative education, 38 (3), 281 — 293. Pujadas, J. J. 1992. El método biográfico: el uso de las historias de vida en ciencias sociales. Cuadernos metodológicos, nº 5. Madrid: CIS. Sleeter, C. E. & C. Grant. 2003. Making choices for multicultural education: Five approaches to race class and gender (4th ed.) Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & So. Thompson, P.( 1978). The Voice of the Past: Oral History. Great Britain: Oxford University Press.
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