Welcome to you, dear people who attend this thinking space in progress. This paperless “article” exists because of the “call for papers” from editor Dr. Patrick Lewis to contribute to a special issue of

In/Education, focussed on narrative research. It is an opportunity to play and think with new ways of working (iWeb and other new technologies for me) as well as visual image/art integration into my research work and publication, within new capabilities of scholarly, formally reviewed, on-line journals. Most importantly it is another way

of entering the ongoing complicated conversation about narrative inquiry. Kudos to Dr. Lewis for his interest in the edge of comfort and possibility with this.


To access the journal In/Education:


First Comments

    I have come to believe that narrative research is one kind of inquiry that, if done well, can help us balance our inner government of self, help us become mindful, and assist positive change in practice without inappropriate dominion over others or doing more harm to our planetary home. Thought-full authentic narrative analysis produces knowledge, fosters insight, and requires conscious empathy, intelligent ethical awareness, and restorative action in response-able researchers.  

   My work developing here is focussed on authentic narrative research and how it might be engaged through eight orbitals of analytic thought. It does not devote writing and reason here to ‘justify’ or ‘argue for’ the ‘validity’, ‘reliability’, ‘authenticity’, ‘moral persuasiveness’, ‘verisimilitude’, ‘transferability’, etc., because other researchers have done that eloquently and adequately within a qualitative research frame that is interested in lived experience, complexity, and particularity.


    In “Pursuing truth in narrative research”, O’Dea (1994) reminds us that narrative research in education is done to

       encourage practitioners to reflect deeply and bring to conscious awareness

        the multiple levels of presuppositions that inform their empower

        teachers to step outside of the societal norms and expectations and to find    

        themselves in the crucible of daily pedagogical practice. The point of the    

        process is ‘authenticity’ -- to enable teachers to voice honestly and truthfully

        their perceptions of the events that occurred in their classrooms. Such ‘truths’ 

        leave room for the irreducible complexity of classroom practice while yet    

        offering penetrating, important insight in teachers’ experience of it. (p. 167)

    Narrative research continues to offer particular truths in our deep understanding about the difficulty of being human and what it is we still need to learn and practice together in an environment of ‘educaritas’. (Fowler, 2006)

    If one of my human intentions is to be a reflective practitioner engaged in the lived poetics of teaching and learning, then analysis of stories about teaching and learning can enhance self-understanding as both teacher and learner. (Fowler, p. 35)

    How and why do educators “do” narrative research?  What do we pay attention to when encountering narrative “data”? Whether authoring teaching stories or researching the stories of others, I have been thinking and writing about narrative research in education for about 25 years and recently revisited narrative theory and research because my students have been asking about it, wanting to “do” narrative research. This “article” (set of online web pages) is a current description of eight analytical orbitals I developed for myself and my graduate students as we think, research, analyze, and frame understandings that arise from narratives in education. It also helps us call into questions the stories we tell and hear about education, and think more deeply about theory. We return from those texts to our worlds of practice.

    Narrative research is especially a rich and fertile ground for researching teacher self-awareness, reflexivity, and professional meta-cognition. The eight orbitals I describe are domains or spheres of thinking about and developing many things, including a “wakeful” inner teaching consciousness (Clandinin and Connelly, 2000). It is my hope that the layout of the pages, images, and text will invite your own autobiographical, narrative, professional, and complicated research conversations and curricula (see William Pinar’s currere “working from within” and Curriculum Theory) in order to enlarge the boundaries of discourse understanding.

    Let us tell our narratives, write our stories, talk freely of many things. Let us find the subjunctive minerals in narrative, metaphor, hermeneutics, and relationship. Let us consider: Unless we explore essential narratives together in complicated conversations, how can we remain human and humane in a community of scholars dwelling in the difficult world? (Fowler, 2006, pp. 189-190)


    For more of my thinking please explore other pages on this site where I lay out samples and evolution of my thinking and research. You may also like to read:

Fowler, L. (2006). A Curriculum of Difficulty: Narrative research and the

    practice of teaching. New York: Peter Lang. (Review In/Education, Fall 2010)


Next: 1 Naive storying (above) for the first orbital of narrative analytical thinking.


    Eight Orbitals of Inquiry: Reconceptualizing  

      Narrative Methods in Education Research

Analytical Orbitals

1. Naive Storying

2. Psychological De/

     Re Construction

3. Psychotherapeutic


4. Narrative Craft

5. Hermeneutics

  1. 6.Curriculum


  1. 7.Poetics of a     


     Teaching Self

  1. 8.Restorative



University of Lethbridge

Faculty of Education

Lethbridge, AB, Canada


Narrative research, narrative analysis, narrative methodology, hermeneutics, autobiography, professional development, teacher identity, difficulty in teaching,

qualitative research.

I have found passages through the labyrinth that has been my life, compelled to understand, and thereby participate, in the reconstruction of the reality confronting us.”     (Pinar, 2009)


Eight orbitals of narrative analysis are presented as a long term interest in autobiographical inquiry, narrative methodology, and curriculum studies in education research. This is also an experiment in thought and play with technology in the journal In/Education in hopes that others in the scholarly and teaching communities will read, think, and participate in other conversations about the reconceptualization, reconstruction, and use of narrative analysis, curriculum theory, and pedagogic practice in education and research.