Everyone has a story that connects to learning: The Narrative Theory   Leave a comment

My own learning through narrative storytelling combines the three forms which appear in practice: “storytelling” the curriculum, storytelling, and autobiographical as mention by Rossiter (2005) and Rossiter and Clark (in press).  (Merriam, Caffarella, & Baumgartner, 2007, 209). I began journalizing after my divorce to deal with the trauma. As I wrote and began reflecting on certain periods or incidents in my life which led me see patterns in which I learned from. The more I wrote the more, the more storytelling told, the closer I became to an autobiographical anthology. Each essay detailed a portion of my life in which I gained better insight of myself as an adult learner. According to Clark (2005), “The construction of that narrative is how we see our understanding come together and make sense…The narrativizing of our understanding is how we make sense of our learning visible to ourselves, if only in our heads” (Merriam, Caffarella, & Baumgartner, 2007, 210). It is through the narrative and transformational learning that I was able to grow from the experience in turn, letting in room for the next experience as Freeman (1991) commented, “In other words … development, rather than being seen as a teleologically driven push toward the future, is instead to be seen as a never-ending retrospective story of transformation” (Marsha, 1999).

In reflecting on the learner profiles, informal learning can be seen as a learning medium which enabled adult learners to assume new roles within society for instance, in family, school and the workplace. Transformational learning was included as their storytelling told of moving from the past into the future (Crites, 1986 as cited in Marsha, 1999, para.). The impact of learning environments on learning experiences could also be depicted in the stories. The environment could be positive or negative regarding how the knowledge is constructed and the amount of discourse that takes place. It is also an educator’s responsibility to ensure a comfortable setting for learning which includes language that is understandable by all students. Marsha (1991) noted, “Language does not merely transmit meaning; its very structure imposes some order on events that thereby influences meaning. Narrative form is, thus, an instrument of cultural, as well as individual, meaning making.” The adult learner’s stories seem to be about how life-long learning and how it has affected them, “It also reflects what some see as the “postmodern” condition, full of change and opportunity” (Merriam, Caffarella, & Baumgartner, 2007, 49).


Marsha, R. (1999). A narrative approach to development: Implications for adult education. Adult Education Quarterly, 50(1), p56. 16p. Retrieved October 9, 2013, from http://ehis.ebscohost.com.library.esc.edu/ehost/detail?sid=381d23b7-c7e2-4076-ac02-928b5b2dafdd%40sessionmgr198&vid=1&hid=106&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=oih&AN=3989865

Merriam, S.B., Caffarella, R.S. & Baumgartner, L.M. (2007). Learning in Adulthood: A Comprehensive Guide (3rd Ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.



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