Fictioning and Storytelling

Education cannot happen without acknowledging the learner’s story and in fact, the act of education also involves storytelling. In a previous blog post (Number 6) entitled Redefining the Language Journey, the word Indiginized was mentioned to illustrate how the cultural roots of storytelling in Indigenous cultures translates into the primacy of storytelling in learning. As teachers we rely on storytelling to convey information and even when learners analyze news events or social issues, these are in fact stories to be discussed.  

Storytelling can be described through a new verb, fictioning. While fiction itself is a noun and a genre of literature, a category, the art or act of telling a story must be fictioning. The word fiction might allude to a story that is not true, made up, contrived or imagined. When reading a work of fiction, even by a Nobel Prize winning author like Herta Müller, say the Hunger Angel or The Fox Was Ever the Hunter, I might argue that these novels are fiction, yet they are inspired by facts, by historical events. Herta Müller might indeed be fictioning but her work rings true. We walk beside Herta Müller’s characters and share their shadow.  

The idea here is that fictioning includes the non from non-fiction. Fictioning itself is not about truth or untruth, the imagined or the composed, the historical or the recent. Fictioning is the act of storytelling. Why use the term, at all, why not just use storytelling and be done with the whole thing? As a verb, fictioning just feels more literary, it feels more inviting, it feels as if we are doing something meaningful, that we are making something to remember. Fictioning is drawing listeners closer around a  midnight campfire. With storytelling, it seems as though the story has to be told with fictioning we already reside in the author’s mind, closer to the characters inside. The feeling of realness is more palpable in addition to these characters also possessing a connotation akin with letters in several languages. 

Replacing the word storytelling with fictioning is not a requirement but it remains interesting to consider the power that fictioning has as a word, as an action of discourse. We might think of this as semantic word play but an educator must be willing to engage in philosophy or philosophy of language and not fear away from thinking or raising interesting questions about language or even other fields.  

Is fictioning a better word than storytelling? Is fictioning a more powerful sounding alternative? Is fictioning what we do when we create stories? How does fictioning apply to presentations? How can fictioning be used in the classroom by educators? How is fictioning a creative method of communication or discourse? What happens when we tell stories? Is fictioning related to myth-making? What is the creative process behind fictioning? What cultural or social influences affect fictioning? How does mainstream or alternative media use fictioning? What role does fictioning have in politics? 

Fictioning is both an instance for us to question language and a means to provoke our questions while noting the way stories inhabit our lives, our classrooms, our news.

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