Tell Me a Story: The Power of Narrative in the Practice of Teaching Art

Zander, Mary Jane
January 2007
Studies in Art Education;Winter2007, Vol. 48 Issue 2, p189
Academic Journal
Narrative is a form of discourse that ‘encode[s] and encrypt[s] the norms, values, and ideologies of the social order’ (Friedman, 1998, p. 8). These values may be represented in many ways, including culturally learned codes, myths, and stories which reveal popular attitudes about gender, race, ethnicity, or education. As a mirror of culture, narrative appears in visual images and reflects the attitudes of society as well as the personal opinions and interests of artists and of those who use images to teach. Within the literature of art education there are many references to narrative that focus on how the stories of both teachers and students affect teaching and the making of art (Kellman, 1995, 1998; Smith-Shank, 1993; Stokrocki, 1994; Zimmerman & Stankiewicz, 1982, 1985). However, very few discuss the role of narrative in the practice of teaching. This article focuses on narrative as discourse and suggests how it might be used by teachers to encourage students to think more critically and to understand the role of art in their own lives and culture.


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