From 30 March to 1 April, I attended the very interesting conference Look Both Ways: Narrative and Metaphor in Education (NAMED 2017) at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam. I felt especially at home here, since my background as a narratologist and current occupation as an educational policy consultant came neatly together during this conference.
During the conference, I presented a paper called "Toward a Narrative Learning Environment. Narrative Fiction as a Model for Learning Processes", together with Floor van Renssen. We presented narrative environments as spaces that foster storytelling activities and discussed how we may turn learning environments into such spaces. In narrative learning environments, stories serve to instigate, facilitate and evaluate the learning process. We looked to narrative fiction as a vast storehouse of stories and metaphors that may be useful in such a narrative learning environment and we discussed how literature, as an autonomous space for experiments with estimations and evaluations, with judgments of approval and condemnation, may serve as a powerful metaphor for education. We illustrated all of this with data from ongoing research on the building of a narrative learning environment at teacher training academies at a large university of applied sciences in the Netherlands. The slides for our presentation can be found here.
The presentation was well received and led to an animated discussion about education as a free space, where students and teachers can experiment, through storytelling, with how they want to relate to themselves and their surroundings.