TLN Blog: Avoiding the danger of a single story


If you haven’t seen it already, then abandon this blog and go and watch novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED Talk on The Danger of a Single Story.  You can also find it on our website.  Adichie explains how she found her authentic cultural voice – and warns that if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding,

In essence, the talk explores what happens when people and places are reduced to a single narrative.

The consequence of the single story is this: It robs people of dignity. It makes our recognition of our equal humanity difficult. It emphasizes how we are different rather than how we are similar.’ – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

In our schools we are surrounded by books. Beautiful books, brilliant books, boring books. Books to help us to teach, books to help children to learn.  In and amongst all of these it is essential that our children find themselves represented.  And not just once.  And not just in one way.

It is also essential that children discover the rich tapestry of lives and homes other than theirs.  Based on intergroup contact theory, Linking offers this opportunity.  Getting to know others and becoming friends helps us recognise our equal humanity.

We can also help to avoid the danger of a single story by carefully curating the diet of books we offer our children.

In Schools Linking training for teachers we watch the first part of Chimamanda’s account of her own experience as a child and then we make time to reflect on the curriculum responses we each need to create in our own schools – with Linking playing its part alongside the books and resources we use and the experiences we offer.

Stories matter. Many stories matter. Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign, but stories can also be used to empower and to humanize.’ – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Visit the Linking Network website book sections, or browse our booklist for book recommendations.  You can also order a starter pack of  ten books from Multicultural Bookshop based in Bradford or other books on our list. Please see the flyer for details.