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Lessons in Culture: Oral Storytelling in a Literature Classroom

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This essay charts the experiences of a group of Year 10 students studying literature together. I challenge the current educational thinking that the literature classroom should consist exclusively of a set of canonised texts handed down from teacher to student. Instead I consider the importance of ensuring students have space to explore themselves in what they study. With this in mind, I attempt to bring students’ culture into the classroom through storytelling; the students take part in a series of lessons where they tell, discuss and explore their own oral traditions. I explore the problem of conceptualising culture as an identity descriptor rather than as something rooted in experience, in the social and in history. I conclude that it is not some reified notion of culture but the student that should be at the centre of everything we do.
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Keywords: culture; curriculum; inner-city classroom; literature; oral tradition; storytelling; student-centred learning

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Institute of Education, University of London, London, UK

Publication date: January 2, 2015

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