Workshop: Journeys that We Make: Travelling, Learning and Communicating with Odysseus
David Cooper, Batley School for Girls, UK
Catherine Heinemeyer, York St John University, UK
Charlotte King, Batley School for Girls, UK
and three students from the Batley School for Girls
Moderation: Michalis Kakos, Leeds Beckett University, NECE Advisory Board, UK
“Journeys That We Make” is an educational project which invites students to reflect on their identities by describing their “discursive positioning of the self and other” (Davila, 2018) with the use of fictional and mythic storytelling. Using as a common canvas the narrations of sections from Homer’s Odyssey and expressing themselves through various artforms, students are invited to inhabit characters from this ancient poem and/or to become storytellers of their own version of Odyssey. By doing so, students have the opportunity to visit, examine and express emotions and opinions, to safely share experiences and to narrate their positioning journeys.
In this workshop, we will be joined by members of staff from one of the schools in which we piloted the project and we will draw on the resulting proliferation of poetry, filmmaking and storytelling by students to illustrate how cultural assets, experiences, identities and positions were brought into dialogue through this creative process. We will also discuss the ways it was harnessed by school staff as a focus for ongoing discussion of difficult topics, and our observations as to how shared ownership of the Odyssey created a safe common territory for students from different areas of the city to meet as ‘already-initiates’.
As we embark on a longer-term project to develop this approach through collaborative action research with teachers and trainee teachers in a network of schools, we propose that mythic storytelling suggests an alternative ‘track’ for dialogue on controversial or polarising themes which are otherwise difficult to broach honestly, safely and productively within the school environment.