Multimodal life writing with middle-school students : a literacy of empathy with/in one another

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Buchanan, Daniel
University of Lethbridge. Faculty of Education
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Lethbridge, Alta. : University of Lethbridge, Faculty of Education
Educators’ and students’ lives become validated and purposeful in the creation of, and attentive tending to, life stories. With/in the creative space opened through life-writing theory, students and teachers can come to develop a deeper sense of empathy towards the self and others in the classroom community. Utilizing arts-based research via narrative and poetic inquiry, life writing, and multimodality, I spent five months working with Grade 6 students in a Calgary middle school in the creation and sharing of life writing, and in subsequent group interviews. I collected data to be hermeneutically interpreted within my own poetic-inquiry texts. In these texts, I was able to tease out four thematic threads woven together in the fabric of my writing: Place, Other, Self, and Teacher. In the interpretation of data—student texts and my own—the rich empathic understanding of self and other became deeply apparent. If instituted as curriculum in classrooms, life writing can help in forging more empathic social futures for all members of a classroom community. This literacy of empathy, this wisdom of shared vulnerability, cultural respect, and political vitality, will result in a deeper understanding of what we need to live well together with/in these complicated cosmopolitan times.
life writing , empathy , understanding of self , understanding of other , arts-based research , Empathy -- Study and teaching (Middle school) , Affective education , Narrative inquiry (Research method) , Autobiography -- Authorship , Vulnerability (Personality trait) , Biographical poetry