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Crafting Critical Stories

Toward Pedagogies and Methodologies of Collaboration, Inclusion, and Voice


Edited By Judith Flores-Carmona and Kristen V. Luschen

Critical storytelling, a rich form of culturally relevant, critical pedagogy, has gained great urgency in a world of standardization. Crafting Critical Stories asks how social justice scholars and educators narrate, craft, and explore critical stories as a tool for culturally relevant, critical pedagogy. From the elementary to college classroom, this anthology explores how different genres of critical storytelling – oral history, digital storytelling, testimonio, and critical family history – have been used to examine structures of oppression and to illuminate counter-narratives written with and by members of marginalized communities. The book highlights the complexity of culturally relevant, social justice education as pedagogues across the fields of education, sociology, communications, ethnic studies, and history grapple with the complexities of representation, methodology, and the meaning/impact of employing critical storytelling tools in the classroom and community.
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Teaching through storytelling is a transformative practice, particularly in multicultural classrooms. Story can situate us as tellers of our own truths, as witnesses to the experiences of others, and as compassionate allies to each other. Time after time, I have had the privilege of witnessing this alchemy in the life storytelling classroom. Students of diverse backgrounds and experiences open their ears and their hearts to others’ histories in new ways. Every personal story contains larger communal, social, and political meanings, often challenging preconceived stereotypes and prejudices. To repeat the oft-cited phrase from Chicana writer Cherríe Moraga, telling one’s story enables a “theorizing from the flesh,” transforming emotional memory into situated knowledge. Story has the potential, then, to enable everyone to become teachers and learners, of and from each other. The storytelling act itself creates a safe space for disclosure. As students read and listen to each other’s accounts, they recognize their own experiences in them and begin to share. The “I can really relate to that because something similar happened to me” phrase begins the process of telling, affirming, and reflecting. Story begins to work its magic.

If story has huge power to move the listener and/or witness to new realizations, it is also huge for the teller, in what our own storytelling can reveal to our selves about our selves. While telling stories clarifies different realities for others, they are self-clarifying and self-empowering. Not only in the therapeutic act of telling, but also in our ability...

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