Curriculum for Identity: Narrative Negotiations in Autobiography, Learning and Education

  • Eero RopoEmail author


I will discuss the implications of identity theorizing to the design of curricula. I suggest understanding identity negotiations as the main processes of learning and human development. The nature of this process is narrative allowing the construction of personally relevant meanings. Autobiographical narratives become identity stories working as anchors to place one’s life course in time and contexts. These narratives comprise the capital for identity repositioning as a resource in future life contexts. I will argue that identity narratives are important both from ontological (what is) and epistemological (meanings) points of view for human learning. I will suggest curriculum as a space for narrative negotiations from autobiographical, social and cultural perspectives. These negotiations aim at a reconstruction of meanings and continuous development of identities as the main outcomes of education.


  1. Alcoff, L. M., & Mendieta, E. (2003). Identities: Race, class, gender, and nationality. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  2. Bobbitt, J. F. (1918/1972). The curriculum. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin.Google Scholar
  3. Brubaker, R., & Cooper, F. (2000). Beyond “identity”. Theory and Society, 29(1), 1–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bruner, J. S. (1986). Actual minds, possible worlds. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Côté, J. (2005). Identity capital, social capital and the wider benefits of learning: Generating resources facilitative of social cohesion. London Review of Education, 3(3), 221–237.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Côté, J. (2006). Identity studies: How close are we to developing a social science of identity?—An appraisal of the field. Identity: An International Journal of Theory and Research, 6(1), 3–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Côté, J. E., & Levine, C. G. (2002). Identity, formation, agency, and culture: A social psychological synthesis. New York, NY: Psychology Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Erikson, E. H. (1959). Identity and the life cycle. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company. Reprinted in 1994.Google Scholar
  9. Finnish National Agency for Education. (2004). National core curriculum 2004. Retrieved from
  10. Giddens, A. (1991). Modernity and self-identity: Self and society in the late modern age. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Goodson, I. F. (1998). Storying the self: Life politics and the study of the teacher’s life and work. In W. F. Pinar (Ed.), Curriculum, toward new identities (pp. 3–20). New York: Garland Publishing.Google Scholar
  12. Goodson, I. (2006). The rise of the life narrative. Teacher Education Quarterly, 33(4), 7–21.Google Scholar
  13. Goodson, I. F., Biesta, G., Tedder, M., & Adair, N. (2010). Narrative learning. New York: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Kihlstrom, J. F., Beer, J. S., & Klein, S. B. (2003). Self and identity as memory. In M. R. Leary & J. P. Tangney (Eds.), Handbook of self and identity (pp. 68–90). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  15. Kinossalo, M. (2015). Oppilaan narratiivisen identiteetin rakentumisen tukeminen perusopetuksessa [Enhancing narrative negotiations of identity in basic education]. In E. Ropo, E. Sormunen, & J. Heinström (Eds.), Identiteetistä informaatiolukutaitoon: tavoitteena itsenäinen ja yhteisöllinen oppija [From identity to information literacy: Towards independent and social learner] (pp. 48–82). Tampere: Tampere University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Kohonen, V., Jaatinen, R., Kaikkonen, P., & Lehtovaara, J. (2014). Experiential learning in foreign language education. New York: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Lannegrand-Willems, L., & Bosma, H. (2006). Identity development-in-context: The school as an important context for identity development. Identity, 6(1), 85–113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Leary, M. R., & Tangney, J. P. (Eds.). (2011). Handbook of self and identity. New York, NY: Guildford Press.Google Scholar
  19. Limberg, L., Alexandersson, M., Lantz-Andersson, A., & Folkesson, L. (2008). What matters? Shaping meaningful learning through teaching information literacy. Libri, 58(2), 82–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Marcia, J. E. (1994). The empirical study of ego identity. In H. A. Bosma, T. L. G. Graasfma, H. D. Grotevant, & D. J. De Levita (Eds.), Identity and development: An interdisciplinary approach (pp. 67–80). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  21. McAdams, D. P., Josselson, R., & Lieblich, A. (Eds.). (2006). Identity and story: Creating self in narrative. Washington, DC: APA.Google Scholar
  22. Mead, G. H. (1934). Mind, self and society (Vol. 111). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  23. Meretoja, H. (2014). The narrative turn in fiction and theory: The crisis and return of storytelling from Robbe-Grillet to Tournier. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  24. Merleau-Ponty, M. (1986). Phénoménologie de la perception [Phenomenology of perception]. London: Routledge (Original publication, 1945).Google Scholar
  25. Pinar, W. F. (1994). Autobiography, politics, and sexuality. New York: Peter Lang.Google Scholar
  26. Ricoeur, P. (1984). Time and narrative (K. McLaughlin & D. Pellauer, Trans.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  27. Ricoeur, P. (1987). Time and Narrative III. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  28. Ricoeur, P. (1991). Narrative identity. In D. Wood (Ed.), On Paul Ricoeur: Narrative and interpretation. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  29. Ropo, E. (1992). Opetussuunnitelmastrategiat elinikäisen oppimisen kehittämisessä [Curriculum strategies for developing lifelong learning]. Kasvatus, 23(2), 99–110.Google Scholar
  30. Ropo, E., & Värri, V.-M. (2003). Teacher identity and the ideologies of teaching: Some remarks on the interplay. In D. Trueit, W. E. Doll, H. Wang, & W. E. Pinar (Eds.), The internationalization of curriculum studies (pp. 261–270). Selected Proceedings from the LSU Conference 2000. Peter Lang. ISBN 0-8204-5590-3.Google Scholar
  31. Taylor, C. (1989). Sources of the self. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  32. Tyler, R. W. (1949). Basic principles of curriculum and instruction. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  33. Van Langenhove, L., & Harré, R. (1999). Introducing positioning theory. In R. Harré & L. van Langenhove (Eds.), Positioning theory (pp. 14–31). Malden, MA: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  34. Weigert, A. J., Teitge, J. S., & Teitge, D. W. (1986). Society and identity: Toward a sociological psychology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Wenger, E., & Lave, J. (1991). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation (Learning in doing: Social, cognitive and computational perspectives). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  36. Yrjänäinen, S. (2011). ‘Onks meistä tähän?’ Aineenopettajakoulutus ja opettajaopiskelijan toiminnallisen osaamisen palapeli [‘But really, are we the right sort of people for this?’ The puzzle of subject teacher education and the teacher student professional practical capabilities]. Acta Universitatis Tamperensis 1586. Tampere: Tampere University Press.Google Scholar
  37. Yrjänäinen, S., & Ropo, E. (2013). Narratiivisesta opetuksesta narratiiviseen oppimiseen [From narrative teaching to narrative learning]. In E. Ropo & M. Huttunen (Eds.), Puheenvuoroja narratiivisuudesta opetuksessa ja oppimisessa [Conversations on narrativity in teaching and learning]. Tampere: Tampere University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of EducationUniversity of TampereTampereFinland

Personalised recommendations