13 Mar Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: The danger of a single story
Often when a school chooses a story for a bespoke project or our Coaching Model (CPD for teachers) we’ll read it and think of all the things that surround that story. We look beyond the single story on paper at the fuller imagined world behind it and begin to build ideas about characters ‘in the wings’ so to speak. We take these ideas and all the characters – we ask them questions about their world and their perspective, about how the main narrative of the story affects them. When working in this way with children and young people we are often in awe of how far their imaginations will take them down these routes and the amazing things that they will discover. We learn so much from their perspectives, rich imaginations and the way that they are learning about the world around them.
In her Ted talk ‘The danger of a single story’ Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie looks at how in both imaginative and factual single stories, that have a narrow or single focus, this can distort our perception of the world around us. A single story perspective flattens experiences and creates stereotypes, “The problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue but that they are incomplete, they make one story become the only story”.
Yet stories matter, they can be used to empower and to humanise, to expand our understanding of the world around us as we see from our approach to exploring stories with children and young people. When we use drama to connect stories children and young people’s experience of the world and get them to move beyond their single stories they grow in confidence, literacy, comprehension and compassion.
“When we reject the single story when we realise there is never a single story about any place we regain a kind of paradise” Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie