are stories so important when learning and developing through
You are invited to reflect on this question by reading this page before trying the methods.
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!
(Continued below with Questions about stories and learning)
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 AUTHORThe 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:
for methods? Follow these
WARM-UPS STARTERS HANDRAILS REPLAYS
stories can play
such a key role in learning from experience
The INTRODUCTION is continued below. Also see STORIES IN LEARNING
Story and A
(These are part of the STORIES IN LEARNING page.)
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: