Online Course Criticism Blog

Sunday, September 04, 2005

The "Story" Sense of Educational Criticism

Pink's second aptitude is "story,"
the capability of conveying compressed information with emotional impact through narrative. Pink asserts that the value of this aptitude is in its compatibility with human cognitive processes and its appeal to emotions, leading to a powerful mode of human-to-human communication applicable in many vocational contexts.

In Constructing Educational Criticism of Online Courses, I emphasize the role of Eisner's conceptualization of rich, evocative description in educational criticisms. While such descriptions are not explicitly required to be narrative in nature, they do lend themselves to the telling of story. (Certainly, the description contained in my example criticism is presented in the form of a narrative.) By their nature, stories draw readers into another setting and cause them to care to some extent about the characters encountered there. Although Pink doesn't elaborate on the defining characteristics of story, McDaniel (2004) observes that stories rise from an introduction (beginning) to a climax (middle) and fall to a denouement (end). Or as Bruner (1996) notes:

At a minimum, a "story" (fictional or actual) involves an Agent who Acts to achieve a Goal in a recognizable Setting by the use of certain Means. What drives the story, what makes it worth telling, is some misfit between Agents, Acts, Goals, Settings, and Means" (p. 94).

That is, there must be some reason to conduct an educational criticism of a particular context.

If educational criticism consisted only of description (narrative or otherwise), it would be appropriately categorized as a genre of literature or journalism. However, as I detail in Chapter 4 of Constructing Educational Criticism of Online Courses, when description is supplemented by theoretically-based interpretation, evaluation and themes from a connoisseur's perspective, and is supported by a rigorous methodology,
educational criticism is clearly a form of qualitative case study research.

Bruner, J. (1996). The Culture of Education. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

McDaniel, T. (2004).
A Software-Based Knowledge Management System Using Narrative Texts . Unpublished doctoral dissertation. University of Central Florida: Orlando, FL.