Thanks Lawrie and Dave.

I think there is another lesson for educators that runs in parallel to what you’re saying here which is about the role of narrative in pedagogy. I’m relatively new to storytelling (as in last 10 years) so it’s a skill I’ve had to develop in order to help others do it. One thing that learning about how stories are told and what their social functions has taught me is to better recognise how, when and why they are being used by others.
I wish I’d been more aware of this distinction at school and as an undergrad; the difference between “facts” and the interpretation of them. I think I would have been a lot braver about challenging the latter if I had.
The more I think about this, the more I realise that one of the core purposes of education is enabling people to form their own narratives but also to distinguish between narrative and data (for want of a better word) and how the two can compliment each other or obfuscate.
It’s basic scholarship but it also has considerable implications for civil society. We’re faced with situations on either side of the pond now where, as you say, narrative has trumped data. This has dire implications for disempowered minorities whose own narratives have been drowned out or misrepresented. History has plenty of examples where this has not ended well.
That is the thing that scares me the most.