Storytelling is for everyone
Being a teacher of young children has brought me to realize there is not much different in the needs of humans. The issues I help children process are issues adults need to process too: separation, change, relationships with others, working together, taking turns, getting needs met.
Young, old, or anywhere in between we all need stories. Our collective love for movies, books and gossip all stem from our need to communicate, create community, and gain a deeper understanding. Stories help us process and share our lives and understand others. At every age we need to tell and hear stories.
Stories help us relate to others
Our world is diverse and more connected than ever. However our world is still polluted with bias, racism, and xenophobia. Fear, anger, and hate can be reactions to the things we do not understand. Hearing and reading personal stories help us see and understand things outside our daily life.
Others are parents, children, students, teachers, athletes. Everyone is a variety of identities. Not just their country of origin or their profession or their paycheck. Stories give depth to labels and complexity to humanity.
Stories can relay ideas more personally
Just as investors want a purpose and a business plan for their money, we need others to understand our how, where, why, who, what.
I always lived about four hours away from my grandmother and my family made regular trips to visit her. I loved listening to her stories about deciding to major in art in college, raising seven children, and necking in the library. One of the ones that stuck with me was about bringing equal pay to the teachers(including her) at her school.
There was a husband and wife that both taught at the school, and when they finally got equal pay to their peers the two’s income almost doubled. It was a fun story about my grandma making waves with the administration, but also gave me more context to unions, underpaid teachers, and the power of supporting your community to bring up those around you.
Stories teach lessons more deeply
When I was learning to drive on our manual 1984 Toyota Corolla my dad told me a story.
He had gotten in his friend’s car to drive them home. For a while he’d tried to put the car into reverse (a manual transmission) but couldn’t. Maybe it was a little tough to get into gear? Frustration came quickly, but his friend coached him through it. He had to push down on the stick, then slide it into R. Push down? oh that German VW engineering.
Fast forward to my adulthood and me buying a car from Craigslist (a story all its own). I got into a VW to test drive it, I looked at the diagram on the stick shift and flashed back to that odd, random story my dad told me, and knew how to get the car to reverse. But more importantly, I looked like a pro.
Learning history in terms of stories helps us know more context and remember time lines. Learning math in terms of stories helps us relate numbers to our world. Stories are a foundation for memories and deeper understanding than a list of facts.
True stories have power
When I say “true stories” I mean factual stories that could have happened. If you don’t know the exact phrasing you used when you were meeting the love of your life, an estimate will do, and it will make a meaningful story.
True stories are part of our lives and our history as humans. True stories share culture, facts, views, and beliefs.
For young children, I believe true stories are much more powerful. They are still figuring out the world and trying to understand what they experience is more helpful than learning about mythology. This evolves as children grow and true stories may mean something different to older, more grounded groups.
Often stories are put in terms of animals… but if the animal could be a person, and the events could still have happened, it is still in the realm of true. But arguably not as meaningful as human interaction.
So go tell some stories!