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Stories of resistance: digital counterstorytelling among South African pre service teacher educators
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Stories of resistance: digital counterstorytelling among South African pre service teacher educators


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Presented at ICEl2013 in Cape Town on the 27th of June 2013

Presented at ICEl2013 in Cape Town on the 27th of June 2013

Published in: Education, Technology

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  • 1. Stories of resistance: digital counterstories among South African pre-service student educatorsBy Daniela Gachago, Franci Cronje, Eunice Ivala, Janet Condy and Agnes Chigona Cape Peninsula University of Technology
  • 2. Context South African legacy of apartheid Highly inequitable classrooms in terms of power and privilege Pedagogies needed to facilitate engagement across deeply divided, wounded societies
  • 3. Post conflict pedagogies …  Engagement of students across difference, conversations about inherent power structures and privilege „In a country that is oversensitive to race talk, few young people or adults feel comfortable talking about race, especially when they have to speak about personal experience „ (Jansen 2010, 10)  Young (2003): avoiding difficult topics in education is a „reflection of societal denial that cultural factors matter and that such things as sexims, racims and white privilege exist‟
  • 4. Critical storytelling  Critical race theory (Solorzano, Delgado Bernal, Yosso, Ladson-Billing)  5 themes: centrality of race and racism, challenging dominant ideology, commitment to social justice, importance of experiential knowledge, interdisciplinary perspective  One way to overcome this resistance to engaging critically with students' historically situated and culturally mediated lived experiences is the telling of stories (Aveling 2006).  Give voice to normally silenced people and subjugated knowledge, in order to provide „a way to communicate the experiences and realities of the oppressed, a first step on the road to justice‟ (Ladson-Billings & Tate 2006, p.21)
  • 5. Counterstorytelling  „Oppressed groups have known instinctively that stories are an necessary tool to their own survival and liberation‟ (Delgado 1989, p.2436)  Stock stories/marjoritarian stories: generated from a legacy of racial privilege, from stories in which racial privilege seems natural (Yosso 2006)  Counterstories: stories about experiences that are often not told (Delgado 1989), challenging social and racial injustice by listening to and learning from experiences of racism and resistance, despair and hope at the margins of society (Yosso 2006, p.171)
  • 6. Stories of resistance  Critique of cultural reproduction theories…individuals are not simply acted on by structures…  Resistance theories emphasize students‟ agency to „negotiate and struggle with structures and create meanings of their own from these conversations‟ (Solorzano & Delgado Bernal 2001, p.315).
  • 7. Critical Digital Storytelling
  • 8. Digital storytelling
  • 9. Storytelling
  • 10. Critical digital storytelling  Vasudevan (2006, p.208) „the call for counterstories intersects with the possibilities of multimodal composing wherein new digital technologies can be used to create not only new kinds of texts but also new kinds of spaces for storytelling and story-listening‟, „creation of new selves that challenged what they asserted as negative assumptions from other adults in their lives‟ (p. 209).  Rolon-Dow, R., 2011: „digital storytelling in combination with a CRT framework, can provide a window into understanding the ways race operates in the lives of youth and the microaggressions that students of colour face in today‟s educational contexts‟ (p. 170).
  • 11. Context of study  South African pre-service teacher education in the School of Education and Social Sciences in a University of Technology in South Africa  Students in this course are differently positioned in terms of gender, age, race and language and come from highly diverse economic, social and cultural backgrounds.  Final year project in „Professional Course‟: development of short (3-5 mins.) digital movies, based on a written script of maximum 500 words, including digital images, which are either created by the student him/herself or sourced from the Internet and background sound  Reflection on difference and how it affected students‟ teacher identity
  • 12. Methodology  Qualitative study  2012 student cohort  Data collection: 5 students‟ digital stories, their reflective essays and one focus group conducted at the end of the project selected based on the potential for „counter-storytelling‟  Thematic analysis of focus group, reflective essays and multimodal discourse analysis (Kress & Van Leeuwen 2001)  Research questions: 1. What are the functions of these counterstories? 2. What types of counterstories/stories of resistance did students decide to tell? 3. How can the emphasis on a multimodal pedagogical approach enhance the telling of counter-stories?
  • 13. Student narratives  Lebogang: Striving towards my success (racial & economic oppression)  Sibongile: Struggle for a better life (racial & economic oppression)  Vanessa: Breaking Free (gender based violence)  Rafiq‟s: Against the Tide (power relations in the classroom, teacher vs. students, racial oppression)  Paula: Swept under the rug (racial privilege)
  • 14. Watch Sibongile‟s story
  • 15. Functions of critical storytelling  Counterstories are per definition stories that are not usually told (Solorzano & Yosso 2002)  When I started voicing my story to people I think I was 19 or 18 when I finally spoke up and a lot of people – most of the people I spoke to told me not to say anything…We have so many stories to tell and I think we all just needed a platform. Each one just needed a platform and in these four years we did so much talking in front of each other and so many orals and presentations but what really mattered to us personally we didn‟t have a platform to air it. (Vanessa)  Building of communities among marginalised students (Solorzano & Yosso 2002; Solorzano & Bernal 2001).  Because of all the stress of the years we just lost each other. We lost ourselves and this just kind of brought us back together and reminded us who we were and what we meant to each other. (Lebogang)
  • 16. Functions critical storytelling  Act as model stories, window into a world that is different from what we expect, modelling possibilities for life other than the ones they usually hear or experience (Solorzano & Delgado Bernal 2001; Delgado 1989),  Today I am not just a teacher; I am an inspiration to others, to my family and friends, who all have gone back to institutions of learning, not allowing anybody anymore to tell them what is possible and not possible for a black person in this country. (Sibongile)  Potential for healing (Delgado 1989; Solorzano et al. 2000)  I didn‟t want to feel that guilt anymore but I wanted to express it and now that I have actually expressed that guilt I don‟t feel it so much anymore. (Paula)
  • 17. Types of resistance  Solorzano and Delgado Bernal (2001) argue that there are multiple strategies of student resistance, some more overt than others.  Active resistance:  Everyone at the specific school that I spoke to about this incident or about this specific person … They always just said oh it‟s a teacher who has been here for years and it‟s not going to change and because coming back to role models and values … I couldn‟t just stand by and leave it… I went against the tide. Something that I guess not all people will do because it‟s inconvenient. (Rafiq)  More subtle resistance:  I think as a person you are not just in gender or your colour. You are much more … and you are allowed to be outside the box. Your role is not only limited – from being a girl child to being a mother or a woman, a wife… you can be much more than that and you can choose if you want to have children or don‟t want to have children. It‟s not something that should be expected of you and if you cannot fulfil it you are made to feel bad about it because even if you have children or you don‟t have you still have – you are much more than what the society puts in a box… you can be anything. (Sibongile)
  • 18. Resiliance stories  Placed at the intersection between conformist and transformational resistance (Yosso and Delgado Bernal 2001).  Students‟ own survival in dominant structures, about the strategies they employ, which „leave the structures of domination intact, yet help the students survive and/or succeed‟ (Yosso 2000, p.181)  Multi-layeredness and complexity of privilege and oppression in the classroom
  • 19. Multimodality  Promotion of individuality / creativity  My friends and family know me for being slightly different. You will notice in the video, ranging from the music that I used in the video to colour….The colour of the pictures or the type of pictures that I used. It‟s all there for a reason. (Rafiq)  Combination of different modes will result in different meanings: for example, while a student may have aimed to tell a counterstory on shedding the guilt that is associated with her White privilege in her narrative, the images she chose for her story told a story of racial stereotypes.  Tension between the written script and the images selected for stories, which both „undermined and enriched by various ruptures, contradictions and gaps that emerge through the juxtaposition of sound and image.‟ (Rose Brushwood 2009: p. 212).  Juxtaposition can show us our „unconscious and its ambivalences and resist the often tidy confines of our conscious telling‟ (Milner cited in Rose Brushwood 2009: p. 212).
  • 20. Conclusion  The particular set-up of this project in a highly diverse classroom allowed the hearing of stories that are usually not told and proved a useful way of unearthing these resistance stories (Solorzano & Delgado Bernal 2001).  Created „new kinds of spaces for storytelling and story- listening‟ (Vasudevan 2006, p.208), construction of counterrealities.  Only one story could be classified as „transformational resistance story‟, which has the greatest potential for social change - but importance of focusing on more subtle, internal resistance stories, too often unidentified, misidentified or ignored (Solorzano and Delgado Bernal 2001)  Marginality as site of resistance – location of radical openness and possibility (bell hooks 1990)
  • 21. Recommendations  Multimodal analysis of student stories with student …  Dominant groups must join the marginalised in their fight for social justice (Delgado 1989: p. 2415)  Involvement of both students who identify with privilege and with disadvantage („nobody escapes hegemony‟ Boler and Zembylas 2003)  Need to engage students and their community in a conversation around issues of oppression and privilege that can lead to social change, in order to place this pedagogical intervention firmly in the context of social justice education.
  • 22. Questions and discussions?  More information found on our blog:  YouTube channel: Email:
  • 23. Acknowledgement CPUT Research into Innovations in Teaching and Learning Fund (RIFTAL 2011, 2012) CPUT University Research Fund 2012 National research foundation 2012-2015 Facilitators and students of 2012 ISP Digital Storytelling project
  • 24. References ● Delgado, R. (1989) “Storytelling for Oppositionists and Others: A Plea for Narrative”, Michigan Law Review, Vol. 87, No. 8, pp.2411–2441. ● Delgado-Bernal, D. (2002) “Critical race theory, Latino critical theory, and critical raced-gendered epistemologies: Recognizing students of color as holders and creators of knowledge”, Qualitative Inquiry, Vol. 8, No. 1, pp.105–26. ● Kress, G. & Van Leeuwen, T. (2001) Multimodal discourse - the modes and media of contemporary communication, London and New: Bloombury Academic. ● Ladson-Billings, G.J. & Tate, W.F. (2006) Toward a critical race theory of education. In A. Disxon & C. Rousseau, eds. Critical Race Theory in Education: All God’s Children Got a Song, New York: Routledge, pp. 11–30. ● Rolon-Dow, R. (2011) “Race(ing) stories: digital storytelling as a tool for critical race scholarship”, Race Ethnicity and Education, Vol. 14, No. 2, pp.159–173. ● Rose Brushwood, C. (2009) “The (Im) possibilities of Self Representation: Exploring the Limits of Storytelling in the Digital Stories of Women and Girls”, Changing English, Vol. 16, No. 2, pp.211–220.
  • 25. References ctd. ● Solorzano, D.G., Ceja, M. & Yosso, T.J. (2000) “Critical Race Theoy , Racial Microaggressions , and Campus Racial Climate: The Experiences of African American College Students”, The Journal of Negro Education, Vol. 69, No. 1, pp.60– 73. ● Solorzano, D.G. & Delgado Bernal, D. (2001) “Examining Transformational Resistance Through a Critical Race and Latcrit Theory Framework: Chicana and Chicano Students in an Urban Context”, Urban Education, Vol. 36, No. 3, pp.308–342. ● Solorzano, D.G. & Yosso, T.J. (2002) “Critical Race Methodology: Counter storytelling as an Analytical Framework for Education Research”, Qualitative Inquiry, Vol. 8, No. 13, pp.23–44. ● Vasudevan, L. (2006) “Making Known Differently: engaging visual modalities as spaces to author new selves” [online], E- Learning, Vol. 3, No. 2, p.207, ● Yosso, T.J. (2000) “A critical race and LatCrit approach to media literacy: Chicana/o resistance to visual microagressions”, University of California, Los Angeles. ● Yosso, T.J. (2006) Critical race counterstories along the Chicana/Chicano educational pipeline, New York: Routledge. ● Young, G. (2003) Dealing with difficult classroom dialogues, in P. Bronstein & K. Quina, eds. Teaching Gender and Multicultural Awareness - Resources for the Psychology Classroom. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, pp. 347–360.