Narrative Events and Literacy Learning: Retelling as a Meaning-Making Practice

2019-08-01T00:00:00Z (GMT) by Shannon Whiteside
In this dissertation study, I present findings from a descriptive case study of a fifth-grade classroom in a private school that implements the principles and methods of Charlotte Mason, an educationalist from England at the turn of the 20th century. To investigate how the beliefs and practices of the school either reflect or deviate from Mason’s principles, I engaged in non-participant observations, conducted semi-structured interviews and analyzed the students’ narrations or retellings. Through this research inquiry, I aimed to illustrate how the school’s classical philosophy of education conflicted with Mason’s theories in several key areas–the originality of the narrations, the role of the teacher and the agency of the students. I attempted to understand what differences these divergent conceptualizations of Mason’s philosophy make on the implementation of the literacy methods in the classroom as well as the literate epistemologies held by the students. I also sought to illuminate the performance-oriented nature of retellings to show how they are storytelling events that utilize poetic language and display the originality of the students through the devices of parallelism, constructed dialogue, imagery and moral stance.

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