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  • Writer's pictureMeghann Ormond

Tools for Revising Stories We Tell in Our Courses

We are storytelling animals - we all make sense of our experience of the world through stories. Within the university classroom, it's no different - as educators, we constantly use case studies, develop future scenarios, share personal anecdotes, and give examples of what we perceive as successes and failures to make abstract concepts tangible.

But how often do we actually step back to look at what these stories we tell - their settings, characters, conflicts, (re)solutions, and the array of ideologies that underpin them - actually do?

As part of Wageningen University & Research's 2024 Education Design Festival, Alejandra Guijo Bermejo and I developed and ran a workshop that got university educators to critically reflect on the kinds of stories we tell in our classrooms and the impact they have.

During our session, called 'Tools for Revising Stories We Tell in Our Courses: Past, History and Heritage', Alejandra and I gave educators a chance to critically unpack some of the stories they tell and to better understand the heritages of those stories. They also got a chance to listen to current WUR master's students with connections to the Global South on how they experience stories told in our Global North classrooms and the limitations they identify of these stories. We wrapped up the session by physically diagramming our ideas about how we might better pay attention to the diverse experiences and needs of our students and consequently revise the stories we tell in the classroom in order to make them more inclusive.

Many thanks to our workshop participants for their willingness to address hard issues together throughout the session and to the students that contributed their recorded perspectives prior to the session.

Critically examining the impact of the kinds of stories we tell is far from easy, but it's an essential step towards decolonising and embracing pluralism in our universities. As I recall here the recent words of intercultural scholar Martha Montero Sieburth at the 2024 IAIE conference: "Instead of asking 'What is worth learning?', we must ask 'What is the worth of learning in this time?'."

Alejandra and I developed the session based on the 'Past, History, Heritage' exercise drawn from the Migrantour Utrecht intercultural companion training and published in the Roots Guide Educational Toolkit. You can download the Roots Guide Educational Toolkit here for free:

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