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I have been using memoirs in teaching a number of social work and family social sciences courses. Memories are a great tool to learn about personal journey while reading the book and then reflect on what type of supports are needed to assist the main character or what social workers can do to assist victims of human trafficking, child soldiers etc. I start using memoirs when I first taught FMLY 4600 Risk and Resilience in Behavioural and Social Development at the University of Manitoba. The previous instructor, Joan Durrant, an inspiring Family Social Science Educator, used three memoirs as part of the course assignments. I have tried using the same three memoirs and asked students to identify factors that strengthen the resilience of the main characters in each of the selected memoirs. Here are the three original memoirs:

  • Beah, I. (2007). A long way gone: Memoirs of a boy soldier. Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre.
  • Dorris, M., & Erdrich, L. (1990). The broken cord. New York: Harpercollins.
  • Knockwood, I. (2001). Out of the depths: The experiences of Mi’kmaw children at the Indian residential school at Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia. Lockeport, NS: Roseway.

Students loved the assignment and I decided to use memoirs in teaching other courses. I also start building the list to make sure that each student will have their unique memoir and we will learn about diverse stories. In FMLY 2012 Conflict, Development and Displacement University of Manitoba, we found at least 50 memoirs that focus on conflict that resulted in displacement. When I start teaching international social work courses SLWK 3012 International Social Work at Dalhousie University and SOCW 4800 International Social Work at Thompson Rivers University I already build the list with more than 80 memoirs. In winter 2018 thanks to my students’ curiosity, the list now includes 100 titles. If you have any additional memoirs please recommend them using this Google Form or leave a comment at the end of the page. Enjoy reviewing the list. There are many educational benefits in using memoirs in course assignments;

  • The content of memoirs adds a new dimension to student understanding of international social work (alternative to academic books/journal articles)
  • Memoir assignment can be harnessed to increase students comprehension and critical thinking
  • Memoirs build insight (emotional impact on readers)
  • Memoir assignment uses group approach in learning to create a sense of community in class

Hollander, S. A. (2001). Taking it personally: The role of memoirs in teacher education. Electronic Journal for Inclusive Education1(4), 5.

If you use memoirs in your courses let me know and we can publish an article on the use of memoirs in social work education.

Please check the current two lists of memoirs I have prepared for my students

Canadian Social Work Memoirs https://krasun.ca/canadian-social-work-memoirs/ 

International Social Work Memoirs https://krasun.ca/international-social-work-memoirs/

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