Friday, December 02, 2011

The case study: Storytelling in the industrial age and beyond

Benjamin, B. (2006). The case study: Storytelling in the industrial age and beyond. On the Horizon, 14(4), 159-164.

In this article Benjamin looks at the history of storytelling through to present times. She follows the history of the word ‘story’ and draws the conclusion that storytelling is a way to transfer knowledge from one person to another and a way to keep that knowledge alive. In the words of Wittgenstein (1933) ‘The limits of my language are the limits of my world’. With the advent of the Internet and digital storytelling, those limits are now boundless.

In the history of storytelling, stories were the way that tribes passed down important knowledge to ensure survival. “Their purpose is to ensure that, generation after generation, everyone has access to the wisdom of the past as they live in the present and move towards the future” (Benjamin, 2006, p. 161). Stories take many forms in the present day; for example the digital stories on NZC Online could be thought of as case studies. Harvard Business School’s first Dean, Edwin F. Gay, identified the value of discussing authentic business problems as a method of instruction and used the first case study in 1908 (Benjamin, 2006). Digital stories for education serve as an authentic example of what practice looks like in classrooms, and promote discussions about the practices that were built upon and what the implications are for future practice. As different educators examine the story and think about how that practice might look in their context the wisdom of the past is used to move towards the future. 

Wittgenstein, L. (1933). Tractatus logico-philosophicus. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

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