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Narratives and storytelling

In Education for Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights Education

Thomas Thomsen

on 17 June 2016

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Transcript of Narratives and storytelling

Human Rights stories?

lesson 1 and 2:

Pre-understanding of storytelling and narratives.
Storytelling and narratives in general
Storytelling and narratives in DC
Different topics and different methods.
Storytelling workshops starts
Group formation according to age group or storytelling preference.
Group formation. Choose between
storyteller approach
creator approach
Lesson 3-4

Working in the storytelling workshops where a lesson(s) are prepared, that could to be used in teaching practice.

Short presentation of key elements. Maximum 5 minutes. Focus on:
How could insights from our workshop inspire the other students.

it is stories where elements of democracy and/or human rights are at stake.

Challanged by for example:
Politics - decision and implemention
Juridical procedures.
Big buisness
By societal norms (stereotypes, minorities etc)

Stories from the present (now and here or there)

Stories from the past: (then and here/there)
History offers innumerous examples of both oppression and successful action against this.
It makes a strong connection between present and past and the other way around

In relation to your lesson plan please consider:
Topic (see first column)
Class and age group
Learning objective
Prior learning expectations
Resources (literature, sites*)
Timing (introduction, main session, evaluation)

Student workshops
Decide which approach you want to try out. Overall according to these two principles
Teacher as the storyteller
Pupils creating stories.

Which EDC and/or challenge do you want to focus on?
See "which stories are relevant" section of this Prezi
Pre-understanding phase
Which stories are relevant?

What can be done with them?

For developing intercultural competence it could be stories that have cultural elements in them from one's own and from other cultures.

Folk tales (fairy tales) from countries around the globe have both
cultural specific
elements and elements that seems to be
l for mankind.

the way people live, the hierarchy in society, different professions etc
These elements are idealized versions reflecting the society of origin. If people don't recognize elements in their own societies the tales would be to strange and be cast away.
But the story takes place in
"ones upon a time"
and therefore the specific elements are not equal to present day in the country
Arranges marriage in a folktale is not saying that it happens in tje country now...

Ideas for learning activities

Find a picture where a democratic and/or human right is at stake. With the picture you can do the following:
Make the pupils identify with one of the characters on the picture and let them write the personal story for that person
Ask the pupils to imagine what happens just outside the picture and tell a story about it.

Tell a story about persons or groups who experiences Democratic and/or human rights difficulties.
"Freeze" the strory and ask the pupils to discuss what a person in the story are thinking at that exact moment

Let the students role play a story
Imagination is necessary to make a convincing character
Try the "freeze" exercise as mentioned above.
The text
"Methods and materials to develop intercultural competence"
(by Christiane Peck and Veronika Rot Gabrovec et al) has useful short chapters for working with stories of different kinds.
Chapter 4.1: An helpful introduction that explains the idea.
Chapter 4.2: Analyzing tools for different kinds of literature. Maybe start out with comparing folk tales by using this chapter.
Chapter 4.3: Learning activities for different kinds of literature that builds on the analysis. I can advice you to try some of the activities in relation to folk tales

: Existential elements, that somehow reflect aspects of human existence that seems to be experienced by people with no reference to specific culture.
Growing from childhood to adulthood
Good and evil are clearly defined.
Gives information on how aspects of natural phenomena came into being
The narrative structure:
home - away - home
structure - chaos - (new) structure.
Intercultural competence
Democracy and human rights
Technique advices for the storyteller

loudness & variation
Story is
fluently told
by heart (or with help of tiny notes)
Practice telling the story aloud so you get a feeling of it.
Difficult sentences to say aloud is also practiced.
Facial and body expression
Eye contact
Position in classroom
General note to remember about the

Story is true or could be true
Build up and length : develops logically (intro, main body, climax)
Story is illustration of a bigger issue.
Story appeals to empathy
Story is adapted to age group / level

Amnesty International's journal with stories from around the globe in Human Rights challenges.
The stories are up to date.
Amnesty International's homepage

Has a helpful "search by topic and country" tool

The news stories from here could give the foundation for a story to be told in the class

A human right utopia... create a story

Osler and Stark in
Teacher and human rights education
has a concept called
realistic utopia
(2010, p. 41-44). They suggest that it can be used as an analysing tool where real life conditions of human rights in a context is compared a contex where human rights has been 100 % fulfilled.

A way of getting the pupils to know human rights is to ask them to write a story about a contect where they have been fulfilled.

To do this the pupils have to read understand the paragraphs to transfer them into a story

The creative proces can be more engaging than just reading the paragraphs. The proces of transfering asks for a deeper understanding than just reading through the paragraphs.

The teacher should act as sparring partners in the creative process hereby making sure, that the pupils stay on track


Both on Wire and on Amnesty Internationals homepage there are plenty of photo material.
For Amnesty: https://adam.amnesty.org/asset-bank/action/viewHome

Try seaching on google using examples of Human rights violation
Before written words stories were told orally by storytellers

Stories help explaining the structures of a great many things:

The world orde
r has historically been told in narratives for example
myths of creation

Group narratives:
How a a family, a group, a tribe, a city, a nation, a corporation or a transnational organization understands itself are very effectively done in narratives. It gives a
feeling of belonging
to be part of the narrative
The next generation are told these stories and hereby culture is transferred through the generations
Marcel or Harry could probably give you a few examples from a Dutch context.

Personal stories
also gives structure to an individuals life.

Narratives structuring function seems to be universal.

This universality is not negative, but narrative structures can be
. Narratives can be quite convincing
Privileged people could create stories of how they are better suited to rule.
Nazism was an example of a national narrative gone wild
By giving pupils an awareness of this aspect helps them develop
critical thinking

A personal story appeals to empathy inviting us to understand the person motives. That can also be exploited
But even though both personal and group stories can be exploited, they can also provide
a treasure chest of materials
for understanding other people and cultures.

Storytelling makes it easier to understand a strange or new concept than a scientific explanation will.

Hearing a personal story about difficult or impossible situations (refugee, child soldier, torture victim etc) challenge stereotypes.

Creating fictional stories for a person in a certain situation gives a deeper understanding of that situation and of how people act as they do

No matter what subject, there are always strong
‘human interest stories’
which could symbolize or illustrate a DC-topic. Just have a look on the internet or in papers and magazines.
Stories in general and connection to EDC and HRE
Stories for intercultural competece
Collection of stories from around the globe

On Fronter is:
Christiane Peck and Veronika Rot Gabrovec et al "Methods and materials to develop intercultural competence"
If you go intercultural it has many ideas for:
An helpful introduction (chapter4.1),
Analyzing tools for different kinds of literature where I focus on folk tales in my lecture (Chapter 4.2)
Learning activities that builds on the analysis (chapter 4.3). Again I focus on folk tales, but there are other types of literature mentioned.
Animated videos on Human Rights



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