The role of story telling in a police probationer training classroom
This thesis is about the role played by story telling in a Metropolitan Police Probationer Classroom in South London in the early 1990s. The method used is one of discourse analysis of the type advocated by Potter and Wetherall, 1987):The form and function of themes, role-plays, case studies, anecdotes and hypothetical accounts are considered in this setting. The central argument here is that all these types of story are used to introduce an element of work place practice into the classroom context. This serves to motivate the students to learn by emphasising the relevance of the lesson material. Such motivation gives rise to student involvement in the classroom activity. In this way, the pedagogical goals of experiential learning and student involvement are achieved and a broader cultural value favouring practice over theory is realised. As with all stories, themes, role-plays, case studies and hypothetical accounts are subject to the constraint of verisimilitude. This thesis suggests that the way in which verisimilitude is defined and applied in any given setting is highly context dependent. In this setting, verisimilitude focuses on the cognitive and task oriented elements of experiences that the students are thought to be likely to encounter in their work place. Stories that deviate from this focus might result in the students becoming bored or distracted; this may result in a situation in which the objectives of the curriculum are not met. For these reasons, trainers endeavour to control the use of stories by influencing every aspect of their telling. The rigour with which this definition of verisimilitude is applied in this setting varies according to the type of the story to be told and the lesson material in which it is to be used. Judgements of verisimilitude are more rigorous when stories that are likely to exert high attentional or emotional demands on the students are used.