In Practice: Storytelling as Advocacy

Teachers begin thinking of storytelling as advocacy by considering their own stories storytelling-as-advocacythrough the lens of Ganz’s public narrative:  the story of self, story of us, and story of now.

Step 1:  View an example

As Ganz suggests, watch then Senator Obama’s presidential nominating speech for Senator John Kerry (a clip that Ganz identifies as a great example of how the three kinds of stories work together—and all in the first 8 minutes of the speech!): Talk about how the story of self, the story of us, and the story of now function in this speech and how the natural progression of these three stories seeks to create a new public narrative.

Step 2: Try it yourself

Story of self:  Write for a few minutes about an individual story of teaching, one that reflects a successful teaching moment.  After you write, look back at the story and think about two sets of questions:

  • What made it successful?  Were there challenges involved in reaching that success? What are the values that underlie the success of that moment?
  • How does that moment compare to the current narrative on public education? Does it rely on the same values that underlie the narrative?  If not, what’s different?

Story of us:  Join in small groups, share your stories, and think together about these questions:

  • What themes do you notice across these stories?
  • What values do you share?
  • What key terms arise?
  • How does hearing someone else’s story help you make sense of larger issues?

Example of the themes, values, key terms that emerged from teachers developing their “story of us.”

Story of now:  Think together about where these stories lead us and how they might help someone understand a different story of teaching.  This is where we start to get into the nitty-gritty of organizing, thinking about what part of our collective story might resonate with an audience, what specifics might be convincing, and what genres for sharing would best speak to that audience.