Curriculum as narration: tales from the children of the colonised

Ivor Goodson, R. Deakin Crick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article will explore the centrality of narrative in both the process and the content of inquiry-based learning, as a formative process which does not predetermine either its starting point or its outcome. Instead, it takes as its starting point the agency and life narrative of the learner and builds from this to a formally assessed outcome. It will argue for the importance of what Ivor Goodson (2006, 2009) has coined ‘narrative learning’. The article will draw upon a research project in New South Wales in which this archaeological pedagogy and curriculum were studied and evaluated with, and by, a cohort of previously disengaged students. These students are from an Indigenous community devastated by dispossession and colonisation. Their stories and those of their mentors will be used to explain, expand and ground our argument. They demonstrate how the curriculum becomes a ‘narratable pathway’ towards the formation of identity and agency when ‘knowing as storying’ is valued, promoted and represented. Narratives provide and create space for ‘pedagogic moments’ in which people can connect with themselves, their own culture and tradition, their hopes and aspirations and ultimately with an intentional, mentored construction of knowledge which serves their personal and public trajectories. The article makes use of Bateson’s three levels of learning and builds on concepts of learning how to learn, by linking this with the ‘person’ who is learning, their selfhood and agency, and their need for meaning-making and purpose as a foundation for engagement.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)225-236
Number of pages12
JournalCurriculum Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 10 Sept 2009


  • context-driven inquiry
  • curriculum
  • Indigenous education
  • narrative
  • personalised learning


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