Engaging Students as Critical Storytellers

Engaging Students as Critical Storytellers: Classroom observations from a Boricua anthropologist

Vanessa Martinez

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Abstract

Public and private higher education’s need to recruit “the brightest and most accomplished students” has created social and economic barriers to college admissions and student retention. In contrast, community colleges, due to their open door policies, provide an academic home for students who might otherwise be unable to attend college. However, the community college classroom is a continuum of academic potential and problems requiring innovative teaching to bridge these divides. Storytelling is a teaching tool that I use to unmask social inequalities while helping students with different educational backgrounds understand and personalize the lessons that different anthropological writings strive to teach them. In this commentary, I share some of my own racialized and privileged experiences, the complexities of teaching and learning at a community college, and the experiences and voices of students engaging in their own knowledge building and storytelling.

Keywords: community colleges, storytelling, privilege

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