chapter  11
16 Pages

Practice and Theory of Narrative Inquiry in Education

ByCAROLA CONLE

Narrative inquiry has been used as a way of research (Clandinin and Connelly 2000; Conle 2000, 2005, 2009; Connelly and Clandinin 1990, 1994) and as a vehicle for curriculum (Conle 2003), particularly in teacher education. In both cases, the focus is on the study of experience (Dewey 1938) using narrative modes of expression at all stages of the inquiry (Conle 2005). The inquiry is also treated as an important experience in itself, both for the researcher and for the subjects of the research. This phenomenon gives the inquiry its curricular dimension (Conle 2003). Following Polanyi (1958), it is a method of exploring what is personal, rooted in practice and not easily named. Inquirers are on the lookout for what is implicit in action, in what is being said, and in what is implicated in the experiential stories being told. The aim is to eventually name what can never be defi nitively named. Narrative inquiry demands personal engagement, collaborative storytelling and the mutual construction of personal, sociocultural histories. Its social aspect has been viewed along Deweyan principles of continuity among events and the importance of placing particulars within a situation (Clandinin and Connelly 2000), but its potential as a positive social force in education has not been established. Clarifying its discourse qualities and aligning it with the practical intent of Jürgen Habermas’ work may be helpful in this regard.