Storytelling Across the Curriculum: From Margin to Center, from Clinic to the Classroom
26 Pages Posted: 29 Jul 2010
Date Written: Fall 2010
Narrative theory and storytelling can be used throughout the law school curriculum, cutting across types of courses and types of lawyering. I teach skills, doctrinal, and clinical courses, and I use narrative theory and storytelling in all three, always with the same goal: to help students recognize that as lawyers, they are not only hearers and tellers of stories, but also, and perhaps most important, constructors of stories.
I use the term “narrative theory” to describe the study of story construction, which is different from - though clearly related to - story telling. Construction is the act of building: putting together the elements that comprise the story and then writing it down. Performance of the story - reading it, telling it, enacting it - comes later.
In this piece, I develop the idea of using storytelling across the curriculum to teach students critical thinking and reflection about their role as lawyers. In Part One, I describe the importance of storytelling and stories in the craft of lawyering. Part Two describes my own teaching in the context of narrative theory and practice, and it analyzes how and why this context achieves the goal of developing students’ critical thinking skills and reflective practice. The piece concludes with the suggestion that narrative theory and storytelling as a pedagogy used systematically across individual courses and the curriculum has the potential to transform a student’s experience of law school, resulting in her development as an empowered, reflective, and socially responsible member of the legal profession, regardless of the kind of law she practices or the kinds of clients she represents.
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