How to write in narrative form

The importance of narratives in social interaction

Antje Bostelmann

introduction

The word “narrative” simply translated means “narrative”. This term is not about the narrative itself, but about how something is told. The form of presentation is decisive for how the narrated content is understood and what it does to the listener.

"A Narrative is a meaningful narrative that influences the way in which the environment is perceived. It transports values ​​and emotions, is usually related to a certain cultural area and is subject to change over time. In this sense, narratives are not just random stories, but established narratives that are provided with legitimacy ”(Wikipedia).

There are many examples of how powerful narratives are and how much they can bundle or divide the community. We are currently experiencing this in the discussion about vaccinations. The most gruesome stories are told to discourage people from having their children vaccinated. It is hardly possible to argue against it with objective arguments. The anti-vaccination narrative contains little truth, but its emotionality is very strong. Narratives are not driven by the truth, but by simplifications and emotions that create a common image for the audience. One can also say: people orientate themselves on the majority of opinions and base their decisions on them.

Advertising and politics take advantage of this. The story of the mother, repeatedly conveyed in commercials, who happily rests on the garden bench with a chocolate bar in her hand while her children are playing with a chocolate bar of the same kind, entices people to reach for the chocolate bar in stressful situations, or to soothe their children with chocolate. This is how advertising works, it is clear to many people. Even so, it is very difficult to protect yourself from it.

In politics, power is bundled through narratives. Political opponents can be eliminated with skillfully told facts. Bringing something bad about someone else into circulation and thus throwing them out of the running as permanently as possible is a procedure that is as old as humanity.

Intrigues were spun in ancient Rome and at the royal courts of the Middle Ages, they determined the course of human history more than we can imagine today.
Narratives can move people, they determine what people choose. This can have both positive and negative effects.

The educational narrative

Narratives play a different role in education. We educators, parents and grandparents make use of the power of narration when we want to raise children and impart knowledge to them. Children love stories. It is wonderful to listen to the parents or grandparents telling stories from the life of the family, how they used to live or how it came about that grandma and grandpa got married.

Stories convey images and knowledge, relationships are clarified in them and made emotionally comprehensible. By telling and listening to stories, children gain insights and thereby understand complex relationships about the topic being told. Stories play an important role in the upbringing and education of children. Throughout the ages, knowledge has been conveyed through the stories told, thereby creating cultural and social belonging.

Maria Montessori left us the method of cosmic narration. This is a way in which the child can come to understand the interrelationships of nature, the development of human history and the functioning of social structures. How effective a story is depends on how it is told. The aim of storytelling is to create tension, arouse curiosity and encourage the listening children to participate in what is happening. An existing emotional relationship is very helpful here. The atmosphere in the room and the way in which the narrator and listener come together also play an important role. The storytelling is supported by pictures.
Written stories in children's books also aid the telling. We can read aloud, sing, recite rhymes or tell freely. In educational settings we also use the situation of saying rhymes together or singing songs together.

It depends a lot on how the story is told.

Stories that are presented by real people are important for children and are therefore preferable to the stories played on screen media. In direct interaction, the children can use questions or comments to elicit a reaction from the narrator and thus influence the way the story is told. The children can join in and think along. It's nice when the story you just heard is discussed together in the kindergarten group. The knowledge understood from history can be shared, changed and deepened with others. In this way, stories can be thought further in the game and processed emotionally, e.g. a good ending can be turned into a dangerous one, or vice versa.
Traditionally, narrative materials are used in pedagogy. Picture books, table theater, blackboards on which the story is presented in individual pictures, hand puppet shows, story cards, etc. are narrative materials that are traditionally anchored in many cultures. In Klax pedagogy, we integrate work with narrative materials into everyday pedagogical life. We work with story bags, story boxes, picture books, book boxes and strips, narrative blocks, strips or cards and story walls or narrative walls that are part of the equipment in the facilities. There should be no kindergarten or crèche in which these materials are not available, are not further developed and are not used in everyday educational life, because with the help of narrative materials, stories told are given the presence they are entitled to in everyday kindergarten life.

Stories convey knowledge, ensure deep understanding and enable the child to make deductions, to get to the bottom of facts on their own and thus to develop knowledge themselves. Well-told stories contribute to the development of independence. Working with narratives is an essential part of the didactic approach in educational situations and serves:

  1. the motivation of the children, for example by positively emphasizing a certain behavior or performance of a child in front of the group. This child will feel proud and encouraged to continue developing their skills. Every child should experience this kind of appreciation within a reasonable period of time.
  2. positively influencing group processes by telling stories about right or wrong behavior. These stories are told in a very important and attention-grabbing tone, and the consequences of wrong behavior are also conveyed.
  3. of the social community by making one's own group the topic. Experiences from everyday group life can be retold. Such stories tell of responsibility and solidarity and at the same time strengthen them. In order for such stories to be told, the morning and closing circles are needed. It needs the ability to take responsibility for a certain area and the ability to act together for the larger community.
  4. The acquisition of knowledge, in which educational professionals think about how they can explain important things in a child-friendly manner. Didactic considerations revolve around the preparation of knowledge in a way that facilitates learning. The core of the didactics in crèche and kindergarten is research-based and discovery-based learning, which invites children to take part in learning adventures in the community of the group and with the active participation of the adult, with a generous amount of time and consciously designed room arrangements. These learning adventures are tied into stories that were invented by the children themselves or suggested by the educators.

It is not just imaginative literature that is told from picture books. Every explanation that we give the children, every experience that the group makes together, which a child tells in the morning circle, is a story that conveys knowledge, influences behavior and strengthens cohesion.

Narration through interior design

Whiteboard walls can be used as didactic elements in kindergartens. They make it possible for a film about the garbage disposal to be shown in the role play room, for the moon landing to be reproduced again and again, animals to be observed in the savannah, etc. overcoming obstacles and understanding relationships. Visual and cinematic representations are important didactic aids as they convey stories.

Rooms in children's facilities should be designed to be stimulating. Everyone knows that, but how can rooms be included in the didactic considerations of the pedagogues? How can we create opportunities for discussion in the rooms, generate curiosity and at the same time ensure connection, security and belonging?

The story of how the day goes, what is where and who belongs to whom must be told in the same way every day in every kindergarten and must not be endangered by structural slip-ups. If a kindergarten teacher is sick and the morning circle is canceled, it is a disturbance, this security-giving and belonging story of the daily routine, which could easily have been avoided. The arrangement of things in the room is a narration that supports the daily routine and the group togetherness in a meaningful way.

In addition to displaying books on shelves that make the book title visible, attaching story walls and providing story boxes and bags, there are many other things that stimulate storytelling and promote learning. This can be, among other things:

  • a project table on which the learning results of the kindergarten children are gradually accumulated, touched and viewed.
  • Things from real life, e.g. flowers, a dead beetle, a model of a machine and much more. How about asking your colleague in the morning "What did you bring your children with you today?"
  • Photos that show events related to the current topic in the children's group or suggest a new topic.
  • Film walls over which sequences can be shown.
  • Whispering corners.
  • Exhibitions of the children's works of art or project results.

Narration is an important tool for educators. As mentioned at the beginning, the narratives generated are very effective and can have both positive and negative effects. It is therefore particularly important for educational professionals to be aware of how they deal with the way stories are told.

It includes reflecting on one another and communicating how clearly, how stimulating and emotionally binding the communication with the children is. There is always room for improvement. Successful pedagogical interaction requires the active attitude of the educator. Care must be taken not to allow the kind of narratives that make someone look bad or even lead to team bullying.

Conclusion

Narratives, i.e. stories, are an essential didactic tool in education. They convey cohesion, meaning, motivation and knowledge. In social structures such as children's groups, teams, families and other groups, narratives ensure belonging, motivation and the ability to make decisions, but they can also exclude and have a destructive effect. It depends on what story is being conveyed and how the narrative is presented. Being aware of this connection is an important part of educational professionalism.