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Narrative Knowing

Human beings seem to prefer to shape information into the form of a story. Referred to as narrative knowing, listening to stories to gather facts is a rather powerful method of gaining knowledge as storytelling allows narrators and their listeners to connect on the basis of “shared ‘same-ness (Jones & Seacole, 2002, p. 1). ’” Thus, narrative knowing and storytelling allows information to be rendered meaningful (Polkinghorne, 1999, p. 1). Polkinghorne writes: “Experience is meaningful and human behavior is generated from and informed by this meaningfulness (p.1).

” If, on the other hand, human beings are presented with theories and facts alone without real-life examples to explain them, it is but natural for them to weave stories about “the discursive” or logical arguments presented unto them in order to apply the theories and facts to human experience (“Narrative Knowledge: Knowing through Storytelling”). If they fail to weave stories around theories and facts, however, they would be expected to understand the presented facts through memorization alone. An argument may simply convince an individual of its truth.

A story, on the contrary, would convince the listener of its “lifelikeness and believability (“Narrative Knowledge: Knowing through Storytelling”). ” To explain how arguments are built, let us consider how scientific research is conducted in the social sciences. Whereas an argument may simply take the researcher through previously conducted research on his or her subject of study, it takes a story to build a hypothesis. Thus, there is no way to undermine the importance of narrative knowing. Even children build their knowledge base on stories alone. School teachers cannot explain how and why 2 plus 2 makes 4 without talking of John giving 2 apples to Mary before Sandra gave her two more.

References Jones, K. , & Seacole, M. (2002). The Turn to a Narrative Knowing of Persons: One Method Explored. Nursing Times Research. Retrieved Dec 11, 2008, from http://www. angelfire. com/zine/kipworld/The_turn. pdf. Narrative Knowledge: Knowing through Storytelling. Retrieved Dec 11, 2008, from http://web. mit. edu/comm-forum/mit4/papers/worth. pdf. Polkinghorne, D. (1988). Narrative Knowing and the Human Sciences. Albany, NY: SUNY Press.

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