ED 816 Reading Log #1:

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Text: Engaging in Narrative Inquiry by D. Jean Clandinin

Chapter 1: Living, Telling, and Retelling: Processes of Narrative Inquiry

Brief Overview of Chapter: 

  • Introduction on narrative inquiry
  • 3 types of stories: cultural, institutional, personal
  • Narrative inquiry as stories
  • The researcher as participant
  • Researcher’s responsibility as a storyteller and a story listener
  • How research in narrative inquiry can change the research and the participant(s)

Key Words: Narrative inquiry, story, cultural stories, institutional stories, personal stories; co-composition; response; responsibility; attentive; experience; change; listen; shared lives; participant; researcher


Related quotes:

  1. “The truth about stories is that that’s all we are” (King, 2005,
    Chapter 5, Section 1, para.4).
  2. “The act of sharing through personal narrative, teaching story, and general conversation is a method by which each generation is accountable to the enxt in tranmsitting knowledge” (Kovach, 2012, p. 14).
  3. “Take it. It’s yours. Do with it what you will. Tell it to your children. Turn it into a play. Forget it. But don’t say in the years to come that you would have lived your life differently if only you had heard this story. You’ve heard it now” (King, 2005, Chapter 5, Section 13, para. 1).

Recommended related readings: 

  1. The Truth About Stories by Thomas King (Simply a must read for anyone interested in narrative inquiry)
  2. Indigenous Methodologies by Margaret Kovach (Lots of discussion on storytelling and narrative methodologies)
  3. We are all treaty people: The contemporary countenance of Canadian curriculum studies by Cynthia Chambers (An example of a narrative journal article and how her story has been changed)


1. How can our own personal story affect the outcome of our narrative inquiry based research?

2. How does one make sure to keep the narrative inquiry based research ethical without crossing boundaries when becomes very personal?

3. How can I, as a researcher, in a narrative inquiry, make a participant feel comfortable to share their story if they are hesitant to do so?

4. I would love to hear class discussion on this if allowed: Think of an experience in your classroom that has resonated with you in your teaching career. How did this experience change you? Why?


  1. “I did know Song Lee from our work together at the university, but I did not know her in the context of her classroom and school” (p. 28). –
  2. “The butter story” (p. 29) –
  3. In Western society: “We think mostly about stories; we no longer think with stories” (p. 29).
  4. The girl in the classroom (Lilly) – came up to author on first day in classroom to play a game.
  5. “I know that the experience has changed me” (p. 31).

My synthesis of article (with educational perspectives): This chapter introduces what it means to live by story. Clandinin discusses how they are 3 types of stories we live in: cultural, institutional, and personal. Cultural stories are those that are created in connections with others as we live in a very diverse world. Institutional stories are stories that we experience as teachers in schools with our students and with our colleagues. Personal stories are our own stories that are undeniably woven into all of the stories we encounter in any part of our lives. I have found myself recently struggling and succeeding in change to all three aspects of my life. As a French teacher, I am currently seeking ways to balance my French curriculum as well as allowing the stories of First Nations languages and culture become a part of my classroom too. However, this is a struggle with only 75 to 90 minutes of French per week. I do not want to forget my role as a French teacher, but I also do not want to be an inactive listener to the Indigenous stories that are also significant to French history. As well, I also believe that First Nations languages should also hold value in our schools – however, I do acknowledge that I am not qualified to teach them nor is it my assigned role with my school division. Perhaps through more story will I be able to find a balance. The story of French Canadian history is woven into the history of Indigenous people of Canada. I am doing the best I can to learn about, listen to, read about and research their stories in order to allow French and First Nations history to take a valuable place in my curriculum.

It is crucial that when using narrative inquiry, we understand that our stories will change our own lives and also those who live within any of our stories. Narrative inquiry can be risky as we are relating to the participants which creates different type of bonding than other methodologies. When one becomes close to someone, whether a student, colleague, or friend, it is impossible to not become affected by their emotions and their stories. Unlike in quantitative research, a narrative inquiry research means that one must allow their story to be heard by the participant, not just listening to their story. In narrative inquiry, the researcher becomes a “part of the storied landscapes” (p. 24) that they are studying. The word response is a key word one must remember in narrative inquiry. The word comes from the word responsibility. These two words signify the precarious task of negotiating spaces to tell and listen to one’s story while at the same time providing encouragement for the one taking the risk in telling their story. Kovach says that “Curriculum makes space like nothing else I know in education” (p. 6).  As an educator, it is through listening to my students’ stories as well as telling my own through my teaching practice that will fill that space. For a narrative inquiry researcher, they must look at stories in different ways and to become aware of all the stories intertwined within their narrative research. A researcher needs to know who they are and who they are becoming in any particular narrative inquiry as their study will undoubtedly change their story. A quote in the final paragraph reads:”I know that the experience has changed me” (p. 31). This resonated with me as in the past few years I have had so many new experiences and I am not the same person I used to be. I have had a huge shift in my personal and institutional story which has allowed me to also change my cultural story. In order to shorten my post, I have added a paper that I wrote in Dr. Sasakamoose’s ED 800 class in spring session 2016. I add this paper as it explains my story of where I am coming from and where I hope to go…


After reading this chapter, I know that this class and the content is going to help me continue upon my journey.

The activity we did in our first class helped me understand more how we can find story in anything. In the class, it was through image cards.

ED 816 ... Day 1.jpg

My first card represents myself walking on a path – I am the human feet. The paw prints represent those who walk beside me in spirit – perhaps in the form of my spirit animals. I believe that all people I encounter, whether in cultural, institutional, or personal levels, have left imprints on me that have changed my story.

My second card represents me being an active listener to all the stories I will become a participant to during this class. I will be respectful. I will listen. I will learn.

…and my story will change yet again throughout this course and after.


Clandinin, D. J. (2016). Engaging in narrative inquiry. New York, New York: Routledge.

Irvine, J. (2016). Self location: My journey of four. (Unpublished paper). University of Regina: Regina, SK.

King, T. (2005). The truth about stories: A Native narrative [Kindle DX Version]. Retrieved from Amazon.ca

Kovach, M. (2012). Indigenous methodologies: Characteristics, conversations, and contexts. Toronto, Ontario: University of Toronto Press Incorporated.


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