Clyde Street

Learning, Teaching, Performing

Speaking About Performance: Hearing Other Narratives

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Back in 1988 Donald Polkinghorne produced the delightful book Narrative Knowing and the Human Sciences. In his preface to the book he observes that “practitioners work with narrative knowledge. They are concerned with people’s stories…”

In Chapter Two he notes that “Narrative is the fundamental scheme for linking individual human actions and events into interrelated aspects of an understandable composite.” His insights resonated with qualitative research I was doing in the 1980s and have informed my work ever since. They added to my reading of Miller Mair‘s work at that time too.

I have been prompted to revisit their ideas about narrative and storytelling following two fascinating radio programs and the discovery that Miller Mair is a keynote speaker at the 2010 CPN Conference. His workshop at the conference is titled Imaginative Writing as Psychological Enquiry. The information for the workshop states:

If we are psychologists, counselors or psychotherapists, we live and work in conversation. This means we have to engage more fully with the ambiguities, surprises and riches of language. Writing as a significant mode of inquiry will be approached as a form of conversation.

These “ambiguities, surprises and riches of language” enchant me too! The Clyde Street blog contains a number of posts about writing and narrative. There are posts about performance too. My interest centres on how these elements are focussed in coaching and learning.

The two radio programs that ignited my desire to write today are Barry Lopez’s discussion with Ramona Koval on Radio National’s Book Show and Ramona Koval’s interview with Lady Antonia Fraser.

In the first program, Barry Lopez (who is taking part in the 2010 Perth Writers’ Festival) discusses Home Ground: Language for an American Landscape (edited by Debra Gwartney and Barry Lopez). I enjoyed in particular Barry and Ramona’s discussion of William deBuys‘ discussion of ‘ripple’ in his story of New Mexico.

A week before the Barry Lopez interview, Ramona Koval interviewed Lady Antonia Fraser about her account of her life with Harold Pinter Must You Go? I enjoyed this interview enormously partly because of Ramona Koval’s questions and Lady Fraser’s discussion of the role of a biographer in telling the story of a creative artist. I thought Ramona’s use of her own meetings with Harold Pinter at the Edinburgh festival were wonderful anchors for her conversation with Lady Antonia.

This convergence of ideas around narrative has furthered my interest in how we discuss, describe and share performance in sport. My thoughts about narrative and story telling were framed two decades ago by Donald Polkinghorne, Miller Mair, and John van Maanen. They were harbingers of a wonderful approach to story sharing. In the last year I have become a real fan of Ramona Koval’s Book Show and her interviews with Barry Lopez and Lady Antonia Fraser were gems. Collectively they all provide a discourse that has enormous possibilities for those interested in exploring coaching and learning in sport.

I believe any discussion about performance in sport is enriched by our openness to the forms and contents of other narratives. This post is part of an ongoing story about coming to know performance.

Photo Credits

Private Conversation http://www.flickr.com/photos/danisarda/4204257051/

Donald Polkinghorne www.usc.edu/uscnews/experts/841.html

Miller Mair http://www.constructivistpsych.org/2010/mair.html

Barry Lopez www.upaya.org/newsletter/view/2009/03/16

Ramona Koval www.abc.net.au/rn/bookshow/about/

Lady Antonia Fraser http://www.flickr.com/photos/35803015@N03/4345794258/

Bluebells http://www.flickr.com/photos/anguskirk/2684740057/

Author: Keith Lyons

Clyde Street has been my WordPress blog since June 2008. I write about learning, teaching and performing.

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