Teaching with Stories: Ecology, Haraway, and Pedagogical Practice
Haraway foregrounds many stories that we, in a late capitalist era, tell ourselves in order to justify, or not even notice, actions that are harmful to all living things. While I am mindful of Haraway’s excellent attention to the ways that ‘stories tell stories, thoughts think thoughts, and knots knot knots,’ I argue that we must take great care when we, as educators, blur the lines between facts and fiction; reality and art. When everything becomes a story—with some stories simply being more compelling than other stories—we run the risk of contributing to the very sense of unmooring (from each other, from all living, from the earth) that has led us to the status quo where arctic icecaps are melting, living things are becoming extinct, and humans are suffering from man-made pollution. In this paper, I trouble the use of stories to draw attention to the ecological harm we have done to our earth. While stories can be powerful, there are risks associated with how we tell stories; and particular risks when we blur the lines between critical storytelling and the idea of something as ‘factual’. Storytelling, and blurring the lines between stories and facts, can have negative implications for our quest to generate a sense of ‘response-ability’ for our planet and all who live on it. In order to make that argument, I first talk about my own story and the ways that I have used stories in the classroom. I then touch on Haraway and her particular use of (and argument for the use of) stories. I then foreground the practice of telling truths with stories by exploring the use of critical fiction and narrative inquiry. I conclude with implications for pedagogy.