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Why Do You Ask?

From asking questions that require an answer To asking questions that require a conversation.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Story, Is It Always About Telling A

I mentioned in yesterday's post that I spent the day with colleagues in a meeting trying to develop a vision statement for our school. Several, nearly half, of these colleagues had scheduled stops in The MC today (our first day back with students). The conversations continued. There was a "buzz" about the meeting. There was a high degree of hope that I have not seen in our faculty for several years.

Interestingly, to me at least, was the number of times the teachers mentioned an idea of storytelling. It came out in terms of the anecdotes from the teachers who were in attendance, the stories that were told by the principal which inspired/motivated us to be active participants during the meeting, and one even mentioned she was hoping to have her students share stories with each other in class as a way of reviewing parts of writing essays (introduction, body, conclusion). She thought (I think) that hearing the stories of the people might be fun and motivational as they prepare for a writing exam later this month.

I'm not saying this was an epiphany for me, but there is definitely something about the way we are connecting to the idea of human stories that are motivating a group of faculty members right now. It could be that during the holiday season, we are open to stories; regardless of religious affiliation, there are stories of the season.

Now for the big wow of the day. I had four conversations with other teachers (not all a part of the vision team) who came to me, and wanted their students to share a story with me: four in one day!
One had a student's whose father took pictures of African wildlife and had it published in a book. The class is studying Africa, and wildlife was a part of their research. The student brought the book from home to show what his dad has done. What a story!
Another teacher was asking if there was a way for students to video interviews and have them edited into a single collection. He wants his students to collect stories from older family members that will describe their interaction with animals when they children: were there animals they feared, liked to watch, had as pets, etc. He wants to try and get a multi-generational discussion started. Perhaps the stories, he said, can help the kids connect with their families.
Immediately after this, Library Lady #1 and I began talking about our website. She said when she taught Language Arts, one of the projects she had her students do (based on reading The Lottery Rose) was to interview people in the community who lived through the Great Depression. She said we should try to figure out a way to preserve these types of stories as a Media Center project.

I don't know if it is coincidence, or that my brain is still on the "vision track," but there is a theme emerging. We all have a story to tell that is worth a listen.

  • Is education about telling the story (whatever the story might be)? Or is storytelling simply a part of education?
  • Is the fact that I funnelled everything that came my way today an example of how a vision is accepted (buy-in)?
  • Do the stories we tell develop the vision we adopt? Or does the vision determine the stories we tell?
Finally, I had one teacher ask me about a comment I made at our meeting. I said I believe we are sitting on a made-for-TV-movie at our school. We have all the ingredients of underdogs over-achieving, dramatic changes in population, and so much more. The question was "Why wait for TV? We have YouTube." Good point.

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