Narrative 4

This collective of artists, writers, educators and activists specializes in “story exchanges:” A method of cultivating radical empathy by sharing a personal story with a partner who is responsible for retelling it in the first person.

How it works: Narrative 4’s work isn’t limited to schools. But The New York Times documented one of its projects – a collaboration between the Ethical Culture Fieldston School and University Heights High School whose student bodies represent dramatically different experiences with wealth, poverty and privilege. The two schools had collaborated for some time, visiting each other periodically and doing shared field trips. But the Narrative 4 project was different: Here, “the students paired off, one from each school, and shared stories that in some way defined them. When they gathered as a group a few hours later, each student was responsible for telling the other’s story, taking on the persona of his or her partner and telling the story in the first person (“shattering stereotypes by walking in each other’s shoes,” as one of the Narrative 4 facilitators put it).”

Why we love it: Unlike the other projects featured here, Narrative 4 is not a class or unit. But, it’s an example of a project that does fit our criteria for a successful project – one that is driven by questions that interest us as humans; one that has an authentic outcome; and one that is not driven by (and yet requires) discipline-based knowledge.

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