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“Small” Stories and Meganarratives: Accountability in Balance

by Margaret R. Olson & Cheryl J. Craig - 2009

Background/Context: Meganarratives, or “grand stories,” are composed of loosely held ideas about standardization, the rhetoric of education for all, the focus on individual success, and the appearance of representative diversity that rarely take into account human diversity embedded in deeply rooted value systems and authentically present in “the realm of face-to-face relationships.”

Purpose/Objective/Research/Question/Focus of Study: In this article, we offer atypical, noncanonical “small” stories as accounts of ways in which teachers and students live in small moments of diversity unseen and unheard within prevailing meganarratives of accountability.

Setting: This research took place in the mid-southern United States and eastern Canada.

Population/Participants/Subjects: Research participants included a preservice teacher candidate in Canada and an in-service teacher in the United States.

Research Design: Through using narrative inquiry as a human research method, we feature small storied nuggets of teachers and students breaking through “surface equilibriums and uniformities” to challenge educational orthodoxies that cast long shadows on their work and their relationships and add to the complexities of their lives.

Conclusions/Recommendations: In the final analysis, we argue for fluid back-and-forth movement between small stories and meganarratives in order to nurture dialectical relationships between and among theory, practice, and policy. Such an approach would create spaces for experiences of accountability to be lived and told, and relived and retold, in more balanced ways.

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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 111 Number 2, 2009, p. 547-572
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 15225, Date Accessed: 6/12/2021 7:27:04 AM

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About the Author
  • Margaret R. Olson
    St. Francis Xavier University
    MARGARET OLSON is an associate professor in the School of Education at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada. She teaches courses in sociology of education, inclusive education, curriculum studies, and qualitative research methodology. She uses narrative inquiry in her research, which focuses on teacher learning and the development of teacher knowledge in preservice and in-service teachers. Margaret has published several book chapters and articles in journals such as Curriculum Inquiry, Teaching and Teacher Education, and the Canadian Journal of Education.
  • Cheryl J. Craig
    University of Houston
    E-mail Author
    CHERYL J. CRAIG is a professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Houston, where she coordinates the teaching and teacher education program area and serves as the director of elementary education. Craig’s essays appear regularly in such journals as the American Educational Research Journal, Journal of Curriculum Studies, and Teaching and Teacher Education.
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