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A Narrative Inquiry into Students' Use of Family Stories to Find Self in the Social Studies Curriculum



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In this narrative inquiry, I explore student connections to personal and family history and how those connections, or lack thereof, shape their understandings of Social Socials content – in regard to how the students attend to history and each other. I believe there is a disconnect between the rationale of Social Studies programs, which advocates for the development of active and engaged citizens, and the way many programs are being delivered. To explore an alternative approach to Social Studies, I invited Grade 9 students and their teachers to share their perspectives about their engagement in a Roots Project which was intended to enrich students’ understanding and sense of identity, as individuals, as members of families and communities, and as citizens of the world. Research participants included three grade 9 students in a secondary school in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and three collaborating teachers, who happened to be at various stages of their careers: an experienced semi-retired teacher, a beginning teacher, and an education undergraduate student. In attending to both student and teacher voices, I found that the incorporation of personal and family history into the secondary Social Studies curriculum provided a range of opportunities for student growth in both personal and social realms. It provided students with an opportunity to step back from the formalized, prescribed curriculum and it exposed them to multiple ways of learning and knowing, through personal conversation about subject matter with which they had an organic connection. I found the importance of relationships, and the acknowledgement of family diversity and inclusion of all family forms and perspectives in the classroom, to be central to interweaving personal and family history into Social Studies subject matter.



family diversity, family stories, social studies curriculum, secondary education, narrative inquiry



Master of Education (M.Ed.)


Curriculum Studies


Curriculum Studies


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