From the Archives – Teacher as Griot

Continuing to mine the mysterious folder of research ideas from my first year as a teacher, I’m sharing below my initial thoughts of teachers as griots. Perhaps more than any other kernel of thinking in this old folder, this one reflects most the direction my research is still oriented. Storytelling and narrative are still the areas I’m focused and I remember distinctly discussing the potential of Youth Participatory Action Research as a digital tool for educational griots at the first Digital Media and Learning Conference several years ago.

My writing from seven years ago:

Teacher as Griot: Thoughts on an almost conversation (with Mark in the paperback fiction aisle of Book Soup)

Griots, for those of us whose middle school content area standards don’t require them being addressed, are West African storytellers. They are nomadic bards that travel from community to community keeping alive the threads of culture. Theirs is an oral storytelling tradition. The griot harvests and preserves the ideas and stories of a given culture and it is entrusted to them to pass along these stories.

And though writers and musicians alike have claimed the title “griot” in various instances, perhaps it is a label and a role most readily, most easily taken up by today’s modern educator.

Within my classroom, I strive to convey the notions of efficacy and justice that so compelled me to become a teacher in the first place. As the modern day griot, the story that we teach is a parable of social change and group achievement.

Briefly: I’ll be posting later this week with info on my NCTE and NWP conference schedules. Please send me a note if you’d like to meet up and you plan on being in Chicago later this week.

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