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HOW STORYTELLING AND ORAL HISTORY CAN CREATE A MOST SIGNIFICANT CHANGE!

J.C. McDermott, F. Chapel

Antioch University (UNITED STATES)
More than 50 years ago, Eliot Wigginton struck on a brilliant idea. He asked his students what they might like to learn. He had little idea that he and his students were about to launch the process of cultural journalism. By connecting his students to the stories of the community, he was tapping into an ancient tradition of collecting personal tales that are individually important. Stories provide a link from the past to the present and so much more. When Wig and his students began to collect stories from the community several important things happened. The students began to learn to value the skills and practices of their neighbors. And they learned how to make those stories accessible to others through the creation of a student written and published magazine. The community also began to see the importance of this oral tradition and the value of casting a light on the accomplishments, big and small, of ordinary people. Over the years this process which was based on the ideas of John Dewey became more systematized and Core Practices were created and came to be known as Foxfire.

Storytelling touches who we are so it is not surprising that this process can be quite helpful in assessing student or project work. Rick Davies’s Most Significant Change Technique is one such process and this presentation will meld together these two processes to discuss how storytelling can in fact provide us with quite useful assessments that are more significant than any standardized test you can find.