Stories of Resilience: ACAL-RaPAL Student Stories Project


Thanks so much to everyone who has supported their learners and colleagues to share stories of resilience through learning. A number of stories have come in so far, and we'll be publishing them via the UK project site, as well as posting extracts on the facebook page. The big news is that we'll be extending this project to April 30 next year. So this could give you the chance get involved and open the year with an exploration of personal narrative.

The Project

ACAL and the UK Research and Practice in Adult Literacy (RaPAL) are collaborating in a project to give voice to adult literacy and numeracy learners. We are seeking adult learners' stories - in narrative, visual, video or multimodal texts, around the theme of 'resilience'. We seek the support of practitioners to take up this project in semester 2.

Hope. Determination. 'Hanging on'. 'Hanging in there'. 'Step by step'. Perseverance. Taking risks. These are some of the recurring themes in the stories that many practitioners hear from their adult literacy and numeracy learners in classrooms around Australia. Their stories tell us much about the experiences and hopes of the story tellers themselves, but also about the society and times we live in.

The stories from the project will be valuable teaching and learning resources for future learners and teachers. The collection will help us to showcase a richer story about adult literacy learners - the kind of story we want our policy makers to read, see and hear, rather than the very partial stories that the statistics tell us. It is an opportunity for practitioners and learners across the country, and with practitioners and learners from the UK to work together.

What kinds and forms of 'stories'?

Stories can be created as:

  • Text

  • Audio

  • Video

  • Images (photos, drawings, collages…)

  • Or a combination of any of the above

The stories may be in any variety of forms including:

  • A narrative of the learner's own story

  • A poem or song on the theme of resilience

  • A fable written for children related to the theme of resilience

  • A story about a person whose resilience has been a source of courage or inspiration for the learner

  • A letter, reflection or diary entry that expresses/reveals resilience

As a rough guide to 'length' or 'size' of each story:

  • Text should be a maximum of 500 words (but teachers may choose to limit the word length further, based on their judgment of what would be appropriate for their learner group)

  • Audio should be no longer than 5 minutes long

  • Video should be no longer than 10 minutes long

When are the submissions due?

The submissions deadline has been extended to April 30, 2016.

Where will be the stories be published?

The stories will be published on a website dedicated to this project. It will be publicly available.

Is there a selection process or competition involved?

All submissions will be accepted; no stories that are within the word lengths/ size guidelines and which are submitted by the due date with the required information and consent form will be rejected. There will be no selection of the 'best' story. However, ACAL and RaPAL may select a subset of the stories to promote the project (ie to alert practitioners to the collection of stories that they can use as a resource for their students) or for advocacy about the significance of adult literacy learning to policy makers and other stakeholders.

Teachers will also need to check that there are no copyright materials (text or images) included in the learners' work.

Will the stories be edited by the project team?

The project relies on learners' teachers providing appropriate assistance to the learners so that the stories that are submitted are linked to the theme of the project, are free of grammatical and spelling errors, and the intended meaning is not distorted by poor expression – ie what we expect literacy teachers would do as part of their normal teaching and feedback process to learners. The project team may exercise some liberty of editing if they notice errors such as in spelling or punctuation.

What might be some 'starting points' in the classroom?

We expect adult literacy teachers to have a wealth of ideas themselves about how they might engage their students in this project. Some ideas that have already been discussed include:

  • Using a range of images to elicit words related to resilience

  • Listening to songs related to resilience (eg The Impossible Dream, Imagine, We shall Overcome, The Children Came Back)

  • Reading about the struggles of famous or 'ordinary' people (for the latter, adult literacy learners' stories from similar project can be useful, as well as stories from Tricia Bowen's collection A fuller sense of self)

We suggest that learners be encouraged to think about and value their everyday experiences, rather than feel that they could only write about heroic feats of courage and resilience.

What will be submitted in addition to the stories, and to whom?

ACAL will be appointing a Project Officer to assist the project team in this initiative. The Project Officer will provide precise guidelines about what will be required in terms of a signed consent form from the learners, where to submit, and so on.

Learners may choose to write in their own name or using a pen-name. They may also wish to write a short bio about themselves in addition to their story. Guidelines for this will be provided by the Project Officer.

Who are the ACAL members in the Project team?

Ros Bauer from NT and Keiko Yasukawa from NSW have been liaising with the RaPAL project team members, with support and advice from the ACAL Committee.

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