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Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe

versão On-line ISSN 2224-7912
versão impressa ISSN 0041-4751


VAN DER VYVER, Corné; NEL, Carisma; VOS, Elize  e  VAN OORT, Ronél. Storytelling as a teaching strategy to strengthen identity development in disadvantaged individuals. Tydskr. geesteswet. [online]. 2019, vol.59, n.2, pp.235-250. ISSN 2224-7912.

Inhabitants of a community in the Western Cape, heavily burdened by a negative identity caused by poverty and many of the socio-economic problems associated with poverty, formed the focus of the research. It was necessary for the participants in this study to reflect anew on their own experiences as revealed by their stories about themselves, because they are and become the stories they tell. It was assumed that storytelling would be an enabling tool to assist them in discovering their true identity, since their own stories as told by themselves in a familiar language could bring to the fore more positive aspects of an otherwise depressing existence, thereby strengthening a more positive identity. The research question in the present study can be simply stated as: • What contribution can storytelling as a strategy make to the construction of identity? A qualitative research methodology was followed by using PALAR (Participatory Action Learning and Action Research) as method of enquiry. The life stories of the participants were collected in accordance with this methodology using interviewing, Photovoice activities, journal entries, observations made by the researcher and recordings by means of field notes. The collected data were analysed using the software program ATLAS.tiTM. The results were discussed in accordance with the objectives of the study in an attempt to answer the research questions from the findings as comprehensively as possible. The results, as obtained from the literature review and the empirical investigation, were taken into consideration while implementing storytelling as a teaching strategy. Cohesion exists between the identity of the participant and the context(s) in which the stories are constructed. The narratives are presented by the participants themselves and from the stories they tell, their individual experiences are deduced in the micro-system. The meso-system entails the relation between the micro-systems, and it could be ascertained that incidences experienced by the individual influenced the individual's relationship with other role players. Should storytelling have developed within a specific micro-system, it can serve as a solution when social problems such as poverty exert influence on the individual. In the eco-system in which a link exists between the context in which the individual plays no active role, and the context in which he actively participates, storytelling brought to the fore factors that influence individuals (for instance parents' workplace, family's social networks and the community). Stories describe the macro-system, the culture in which the individual lives, for instance customs, traditions, the economy, health services, education and values. It was found that the individual does not understand who they are if their life forms no story, because stories are not simply something people tell, but also incidences of what people have experienced. Therefore, storytelling can expose the individual's negative identity. From the participants' storytelling it became clear that they are dependent on one another at both material and emotional levels due to the brokenness observed in family constructs and poverty (at all levels - material and emotional, as well as the socio-economic decay brought about by poverty). The group that is seen as an entity (community) dissipates uncertainty in the self by practising immoral and bad habits. Participants' storytelling brought to the fore the internalisation of symptoms (depression and fear) as well as the externalisation of symptoms, amongst others, drug and liquor abuse risks. Absent parental support has an influence on the construction of the individual's identity, as confirmed from the participants' storytelling. From the stories told by the participants it became clear that incidents and actions around the individual can be destructive, but can in time be seen and experienced as positive. Therefore, storytelling as strategy brings to the fore a positive identity. A large number of the participants never recognised positive elements in their lives before communicating these in their stories. Specifically the positive characteristics, abilities and skills of the participants are revealed in their storytelling. Religion plays a prominent role in the lives of quite a number of the participants, and serves as a solution for restoration. It is then also especially religion that gives them insight into all the problematic aspects of their lives. It was also found in the storytelling that the focus should be centred on the individual's religion and not on the individual. The participants' dreams were revealed by the stories told by them. The contribution stories make to identity is that stories told by individuals reveal who they are. When storytelling directs the individual's way of thinking in a positive direction, it enables them to organize their way of living and adopt a positive world view. Storytelling has at its command a number of qualities that make it suitable to be applied as an education strategy. Therefore, stories told by individuals with a view to establish a storytelling culture serve to promote identity development.

Palavras-chave : identity; storytelling; storytelling as strategy; autobiographical stories; ecological systems theory; social identity; narrative identity; religious identity; disadvantaged inividuals; Action Research.

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