The Autobiographical Approach: Unpack the Past to Shape the Future

Table of Contents


Being constantly pressured by educational bureaucracies, teachers often experience the frustration of having their chance to listen to their pupils’ life experiences limited by the necessities of pursuing academic goals. Against a background of tests and targets to meet, the need for a deep relational connection goes mainly unsatisfied, and educational opportunities are lost.

Creating a deep and valuable personal relationship between teachers and their learners, however, is at the core of educational activities, and fundamental for their success. Luckily, this possibility is always at hand in the context of the classroom – if teachers only use appropriate tools.

This course proposes narrative autobiography as a valuable resource to close the distance between school teachers and their students. Engaging with narrative autobiography is extremely significant for personal development, as it helps accommodate new ideas and experiences, thus contributing to developing self-awareness and building self-esteem.

In relational terms, practicing narrative autobiography empowers active listening skills and communication abilities. Introducing narrative autobiography in a group may also help engage it with meaningful dialogues about values, beliefs and perspectives, and facilitate the growth of the class into an interactive community while encouraging self-reflection, shared experiences, the ethic of care, and understanding among students.

As a participant in the course, you will be engaged through a highly participatory method to practice specific autobiographical techniques (including games and a lot of fun!), gently conducting through a self-awareness path. You will, hence, experience the method on yourself first in order to be able to propose it later to your students.

By the end of the course, you will be able to use communication tools to develop effective relationships both with your students and with their social environment at large.

You will be also confident in designing autobiographical workshops to encourage the identity development of your students, and in promoting a positive classroom atmosphere with a revitalized sense of purpose and a renewed boost of motivation for their educational role.

Concept by: Maddalena Bucciarelli

Learning outcomes

The course will help the participants to:

  • Recognize the barriers that limit the development of effective communication with the students;
  • Experience and reflect on the basic components of active listening: authenticity, empathy and positive regard;
  • Create a positive atmosphere in class through an active listening and the autobiographical approach;
  • Encourage the identity development of students;
  • Cultivate joy, creativity and fun to preserve wellbeing at school while working;
  • Design autobiographical workshops using appropriate techniques and methods.

Tentative schedule

Day 1 – Introduction to the autobiographical education

  • Introduction to the course, the school, and the external week activities;
  • Icebreaker activities;
  • Self-presentations of the participants using autobiographical experiencial activities;
  • Key components of the autobiographical approach: objectives, methodology, fields of application, ethical rules.

Day 2 – Autobiographical approach as an education tool

  • Autobiographical approach in educational settings as a tool for identity development;
  • Autobiographical kit: knowing and practicing autobiographical games and activities;
  • Experiential learning and debriefing;
  • Presentations of the participants’ schools.

Day 3 – The autobiographical approach: theory and practice

  • Autobiographical workshops at school: structure, objectives, methodology, techniques and in-depth study of autobiographical stimuli;
  • Designing autobiographical workshops for students.

Day 4 – Interpersonal communication: building trusting relationships

  • Building trust: the foundation of any relationship;
  • Authenticity, empathy and positive regard;
  • Non-verbal communication;
  • Experiential learning and debriefing.

Day 5 – Interpersonal communication: the role of cognitive schemes and personality traits

  • The role of cognitive schemas in the process of acquiring knowledge;
  • The interpretation of reality: We live what we create. We create what we live;
  • Acting as a self-fulfilling prophecy;
  • Projection: We see things as they are, or as we are?
  • Rigidity of schemes and prejudice;
  • Experiential learning and debriefing.

Day 6 – Course closure & cultural activities

  • Course evaluation: round up of acquired competences, feedback, and discussion;
  • Awarding of the course Certificate of Attendance;
  • Excursion and other external cultural activities.

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