In education we're constantly telling stories, using them to make connections between natural phenomenon, society and our students. Stories can be powerful and they help to give context to the world. But it's critical to not rely on any single story to define your view or perception.
The novelist Cimamanda Adichie speaks to the importance of hearing, or reading, multiple viewpoints about a place or people. She warns that if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding. She's absolutely right. For instance, there is an old phrase that says "history is written by the winners." This points to a belief that "facts" are only true in the given context. But if you look at an event or place from another perspective then it might appear completely differently. If all we have is that one story then we risk it becoming our reality.
Relating this back to the classroom, it's critically important for teachers to understand that each student has their own story, their own issues they are dealing with. We cannot afford to make assumptions based on a student's appearance, attitude or performance. It begs the question, how can we ask students to tell their stories? How can we incorporate their lives into the group's understanding? Their experiences are real and should be respected and honored. This is how we create a stronger bond between and among members of our society.
Watch Ms. Adichie's video below to better understand this danger of a single story.