Telling personal narratives related to course content also helped students remember what they had learned. One student explained that the personal nature of the activity also gave her a useful connection to the material that aided retention:
I feel for me that English is like—I dunno. I feel like, “how are you going to remember all this stuff?” … Your teaching made a lot of stuff stick so I feel way more confident to do University level English now after this class. My (English) 045 … when I was there … nothing really stuck. I couldn’t really remember anything because it was just read this; write this… Nothing interesting. Nothing to help you remember (Semester-end taped class discussion, December 2004).
The use of personal narratives not only facilitated the covering of certain key concepts in the English course, it also helped students retain what they had learned.
Another student also expressed this same belief that the value of telling your own story was in the meaningfulness and retention that was developed when new information was connected to the personal. This student used a metaphor to make her point:
(Telling your own story) helps you relate and input the new information into your perspective making it understood on a personal level and not just be information you are fed. An example, you like to eat steak. If you like it and know it, you will savour and enjoy it. If you don’t like it and don’t know it, you will force yourself to choke it down and forget it as soon as you can (Individual feedback form, November 2004).
Choking down information that has been stuffed down your throat is an image not far different than that expressed by Paulo Freire (1970). He criticizes the traditional banking model of education that views student “accounts” as empty and the instructor’s job to deposit “intellectual currency” into them (p .53). Meaningful, long-lasting learning happens, however, when new information is relevant and connected to the lives of the learners and is not simply choked down to be regurgitated later.