So, I’ve been thinking about storytelling. I’m supposed to be thinking about it a little more than I actually have been, but I’m getting there.
I personally love a good story. I have an old friend who is an excellent story-teller. She’s great with mimicking voices and accents and I could listen to her tell stories, the same stories, over and over. In my family, we have some stories that we retell at certain times of the year. I’m sure we aren’t alone in having some family gems that come up every year at holiday times. Now that we have more people in our family, (my brothers and I are all married and have kids) we tell these stories to new people who weren’t necessarily in the story. But these are part of who we are and our history as a family. They are about family members who have died, but whose characteristics or habits we may see in our children. In telling them to new family members we not only bring them to the inside of the family, we ask them to share the responsibility of keeping the stories alive. Even though my children did not know my grandparents (my daughter was not even walking when my last grandparent died) it is important to me that they know the stories that we tell about them: the time my grandfather made green pancakes, how my grandmother insisted we have Champaign on Christmas morning. I have some things that belonged to them, but without the stories that go with them, they are just things. That pink (my grandmother’s favorite color) chair really doesn’t go with our decor, but it sits at my desk, in all its pinkness, because it’s a good chair and to recover it in some other color would make it just another chair.
Anyway, I am participating in ETMOOC, a massive open online course. The topic at the moment is digital storytelling. The first part of this topic is the issue of pinning down what that means. We’ve been directed to several options for definitions. My thought is that the value and beauty of storytelling is there regardless of the format. There are some new media in which to tell, share, and comment on the story, but storytelling has not morphed into something that needs a new name.
It’s probably pretty obvious that I think storytelling is important. I also think it is powerful. Part of the reason I never could get through everything I planned in class is that stories would rear their large and distracting heads. There is nothing like a story to make a point. Plus, I think that the connecting that you do in your brain to link ideas into stories or connect one event here to another story there stretches you and makes you a different, and I would say better, thinker. So, no matter what grade or subject I teach, stories are part of that. The mixing in of the story in Maira Kalman’s And the Pursuit of Happiness is one of the things that makes it so interesting. (I still want to get that idea going. I’m working on it, in a sly and sneaky way. . .)
I hope to try out some options beyond my regular repertoire. I’ll keep you posted as I tell my stories.