The Narrative Imagination: Theological Insights on Teaching

  • Jim Parsons University of Alberta
  • William Frick University of Oklahoma


The authors present the “Narrative Imagination,” which they define as the act of teachers seeing within students a story not yet fulfilled. The teaching task, they suggest, lies in teachers engaging students’ stories in ways that acknowledge the teachers’ status without overpowering their students. The authors ask a central question: Recognizing that our work and lives are intermingled with the lives of our students, how might we engage students in ways that aid their learning and “inspirit” their futures? The article draws upon the work of theologian Caroline Simon’s The Disciplined Heart, which takes seriously the narrative possibilities of the “other” as a critically liberating engagement. Building upon the New Testament story of “The Good Samaritan,” Simon believes the Samaritan engaged the wounded man along the road as a person whose story was not yet completed. This perspective, the authors believe, can inform how teachers may engage students. The narrative understanding of personhood acknowledges growth and potential, builds community, and helps teachers see their students as living possibilities.

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