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STORY MAKING AND TELLING FOR ALL

OVER 30 STORY-BASED REVIEWING METHODS: WHY : HOW : LINKS

Why are stories so important when learning and developing through experience?
You are invited to reflect on this question by reading this page before trying the methods.

I am not a poet,
living is the poem
I am not a singer,
I am in the song
And I've got a story that I cannot write down
...
Every note's an answer, every word's a sign
Every man's a dancer, following his own time
I've found a tearful language that translates what I am
And I cried out loud, but they didn't understand
I cried so hard I may never try again
...
from 'I am not a poet' by Melanie Safka Copyright 1972 Keith Prowse Music Publishing Co. Ltd.

New experiences are most valuable when there are also opportunities to create new stories. How learners talk about their experiences indicates what they are learning and how the experience is affecting their development.

Telling stories is the 'method' that we naturally use to tell others about our experiences. There are, of course, many ways in which a facilitator can intervene in this 'natural' process - and there are many good reasons for doing so.

In the age of sound bites, instant communications and crash courses for quick learning, do we have time for the telling of stories?

Both 'story-making' and 'story-telling' can be be the key to learning from experience. These processes can be enhanced by a variety of 'story-based' reviewing methods. 30 such methods are described in this section. But given that learning through stories has been happening throughout human evolution, what you find here is a very small sample of what is possible!

CHOICES WITHIN THE 'STORY' SECTION OF THIS REVIEWING GUIDE
'DOERS' Hungry for methods? Follow these links:
WARM-UPS   STARTERS   HANDRAILS   REPLAYS  
'THINKERS' Why stories can play such a key role in learning from experience
The INTRODUCTION is continued below. Also see STORIES IN LEARNING
'FEELERS' Powerful learning stories: Martina's Story and A Manager's Story.
(These are part of the STORIES IN LEARNING page.)

Questions about stories and learning

TRUE OR FALSE?

The term 'story-telling' has connotations of falsehood - telling tales or lies, exaggerating and fantasising. If stories lead away from the truth, then they also lead away from experience and from learning - not the direction that the reviewing of experience should take! (Occasional trips into fantasy can be beneficial - as some of the following methods reveal.) We should try to use story-based techniques that help people to develop the kinds of stories that lead back into their experiences and throw light on their experiences - stories that draw out the power and the meaning and the learning.

GROWING UP OR GETTING STUCK?

The term 'story-telling' is strongly associated with childhood - and the telling of stories to children for entertainment, or for education or for sending to sleep (see 'THREE THINGS' for an example of this). Children live in a world of stories and are forever weaving them into their play. From one perspective, growing up can seem like a move away from this world of 'make-believe'. From another perspective - it can be said that unless we learn to weave new stories, we get stuck with stories from the past, and, like Peter Pan, we never grow up.

ONE OR MORE PERSPECTIVES?

'Story-making' and 'story-telling' are typically carried out by a single author or by one narrator. They are typically solo efforts (with odd exceptions like 'The Brothers Grimm' or Janet and Alan Ahlberg). In a group or family setting the equivalent would be one person telling the story to a small audience. But stories have important social dimensions - and stories can be made and told by groups of people about themselves or about individuals in the group. This ability to create and develop stories with others (about personal and shared experiences) is an essential skill in learning from experience. Seeing experience through just one pair of eyes, or just from private recordings or from relating experience with just one voice are each limiting factors in learning.

FIXED OR FLUID?

In the oral tradition of story-making and story-telling, the stories are ever-changing. It was only with the recording of stories, that they became fixed and permanent creations. Before stories were recorded, they were 're-mixed' at each telling. Such stories were fluid, living and ever-changing. People can more readily learn to change and develop if they see their own life stories as fluid and open-ended, rather than as stories that were fixed at some point in the past. Stories enslave or liberate depending on whether they are fixed or evolving.

EVERYONE'S AN AUTHOR

The making and telling of stories is often seen as something that other people do. In this way of thinking, stories might be for 'reading', 'hearing' or 'watching', but as for 'creating' or 'telling' stories, these are things that other 'more talented' people do. Such an attitude leads to people getting used to being bit players in other people's stories, and they become the victims of a reality that others impose. Personal growth remains at a low ebb until people are able to appreciate that alternative versions of reality are possible, and that they themselves can create credible stories and can be the co-authors of reality. This exchanging and adjusting of perspectives is central to a healthy and developmental reviewing process. Only through taking part in the authoring (or co-authoring) of stories about experience does learning become authentic. You may prefer to think of this as people taking authority, responsibility or ownership for their own learning.

Note: The choice of the words 'author', 'authentic' and 'authority' in the previous two sentences is deliberate. It indicates why being an author (a maker and teller of stories) is such an important creative task for learners to undertake.

THE STORY TELLER COMMANDS

"If we are to affirm the meaning, the value, of our own story, we must make an act of personal faith. In the end, it is the storyteller who, like any novelist, commands the audience. Our sense of our meaning of our story - that is our contribution to life."

These are the closing words of Phillida Salmon's 'Living in Time: A New Look at Personal Development' (1985) J.M.Dent and Sons Ltd.

THERE'S ALWAYS ANOTHER STORY...

You will find further explanations of the value of learners telling stories and examples of 'stories in learning' on a separate page entitled:

In fact, the whole of the Active Reviewing Guide is about creating new stories with the aid of a whole range of communication tools from the expressive arts. These are stories that help people to make sense of experience and inspire them to change their stories in mutually empowering ways.
30 METHODS

WARM-UPS

FORTUNATELY...
UNFORTUNATELY

THREE THINGS

WHY?WHY?WHY?

JUST A MINUTE

SOUND BITE STORY

STARTERS

MEMORY GAME

EMAG YROMEM

IT'S HAPPENING
AS I SPEAK

SAME AND DIFFERENT

FINDING THE BONES

DRESSING THE
SKELETON

INVESTIGATIVE
JOURNALISTS

HANDRAILS

SKETCH MAP

STRIP CARTOON

HAPPY CHART

THIRD PERSON
NARRATOR

THIRD PERSON
NARRATOR
'WITH ATTITUDE'

PRESENT TENSE

IMAGINED AUDIENCE

SPEECH CARDS

STORY WITHOUT
WORDS

FOUND OBJECTS

MOBILE TV
PRESENTER

FOUND PICTURES

McFAIL'S
MYSTERY
MONITOR

LIKE, UNLIKE

ACTION REPLAY

REPLAY CONTROLS

REPLAY
VARIATIONS

REPLAY
AUDIENCE

EXAGGERATION

RECONSTRUCTION

THEATRE OF
THE ABSURD

EVEN
MORE
CHOICES

CHOICES WITHIN THE 'STORY' SECTION OF THIS REVIEWING GUIDE
'DOERS' Hungry for methods? Follow these links:
WARM-UPS   STARTERS   HANDRAILS   REPLAYS  
'THINKERS' Why stories can play such a key role in learning from experience
The INTRODUCTION is continued below. Also see STORIES IN LEARNING
'FEELERS' Powerful learning stories: Martina's Story and A Manager's Story.
(These are part of the STORIES IN LEARNING page.)

OTHER WEBSITES ABOUT STORY-MAKING AND TELLING
Most of reviewing.co.uk is about the various ways in which new stories are created and new learning is generated. But it is a huge subject and I am always on the look out for others on a similar wavelength. Please let me know if you can add to this list:
  • *** Lessons from the Masters: 5 rules of storytelling by Gavin MacMahon. Two succinct slideshares that distill the essence of Pixar and Vonnegut. Inspirational nuggets!
  • *** Stories That Promote Group Dynamics by Jerry Hampton including: A Sufi Tale of Transformational Change, Rabbi's Story of Symplicity, Why Use Stories or Poems? Lessons From Geese, Frankenstein The Monster (a story of love and acceptance), The Owl's Gift To The Boy (a story that offers empowerment), Limabean Stories (male and female voice), A Life With Purpose (about passion in life), Velveteen Rabbit (about being real).
  • *** Learn about storytelling A table of contents linked to many pages on Steve Denning's website that draw together the work of storytellers and writers about storytelling.
  • Bard of IBM tells business tales Dave Snowden has established story telling as a mode of knowledge exchange within IBM GS's consulting practice.
  • Corporate Storytelling Training Sessions, Seminars and Workshops by Ken Farmer
  • Dreamwork.org a system to enable businesses to explore their organisational unconscious and so discover the creative potential hidden within.
  • Impro for Storytellers
    Keith Johnstone
    Synopsis: Written by the author of "Impro", a theatre text on improvization, this book builds on and extends Johnstone's techniques for releasing an individual's potential within the context of group work. (Amazon.co.uk)
    Buy from Amazon.co.uk
  • International Storytelling Center believes in the power of storytelling...that storytelling is at the heart of human experience...that our stories can enrich our lives and work.
  • Lima Bean Story Male and female versions of this powerful story about human diversity - valuing everyone in the community.
    "Stories Transfer Knowledge: If you want to teach, or if you want to set up a killer database that everyone will contribute to and use, make sure your subject-matter is stories. Distilling stories to 'lessons' destroys the essence of their value by disabling the learner's ability to internalize, digest, and learn from, the contextualized experience of the teacher." David Pollar, salon.com
  • Scottish Storytelling Centre
  • StoryAtWork ''a resource guide for business leaders, consultants, educators, marketers, storytellers, artists, activists, students, and anyone else eager to apply story in the world of work.'' 
  • Storyteller.net includes article on ''Corporate Telling- Fire Up Your Employees...''
  • Storytelling: Passport to the 21st Century Introduction to storytelling I John Seely Brown on science I Steve Denning on change I Katalina Groh on video I Larry Prusak on organization | Bibliography on storytelling
  • Storytellingpower.com how to use the power of storytelling to enhance your life, your career and your community
  • Storytelling Resources links to books about storytelling, books of stories, and other Internet sites connected with storytelling.
  • Storytelling Resources some more useful links
  • StoryWise: The Center for Narrative Studies (CNS) 'shaping the stories that shape us'. CNS is a multi-disciplinary team dedicated to applying narrative theory to the practical renewal of leadership in culture and communities.
  • Storywise: Thinking Through Stories
    Karin Murris, Joanna Haynes
    Synopsis: A manual and resource for developing philosophical dialogue with children aged 4 and above.
    Book Description: Storywise is a fascinating resource that harnesses the power of familiar stories to open up a space for children's thinking. This publication, the Storywise Starter Pack, comes in two parts. The first is a Teachers' Guidance Book of ideas and methods for leading children into high-quality thinking and dialogue about all kinds of stories. The second is an expandable starter-pack of ideas and learning materials for three classic picture books along with a Web of Intriguing Ideas that teachers can use with many other stories, poems and pictures for all ages. More Storywise material will be available in the future. Storywise is a radically updated and re-written version of Dr. Karin Murris' ground-breaking project: Teaching Philosophy Through Picture Books. The benefits for children of that project will remain (introduction to philosophical dialogue, improvements in thinking skills and literacy).
    Buy from Amazon.co.uk
  • World-Wide List of Courses In and/or About Storytelling Taught at Colleges and Universities
  • YouthStoryTelling.com Unlocking the Puzzle of Learning with Story


  • See more books about creativity in learning
  • ???
  • Please recommend any good sites on this theme to roger@reviewing.co.uk

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