Friday, March 7, 2014

Which character are you?

WARNING The following post contains incomplete thoughts that might be uncomfortable to some readers. The author is simply attempting to write his way to understanding. Readers looking for coherent thoughts about teaching are encouraged to seek elsewhere. Possible Side Effects: head shaking, eye rolling, and muttering.
Some stories are meant to be told, not just read. Fred Stella reminded me of this as he recited the first chapter of the Bhagavad Gita. The translation by Edwin Arnold helped, but it was Fred who brought the text to life. His inflection and gestures helped to give the sense that we were a part of the scene being described.

And according to Fred, that was the point of the Bhagavad Gita. He explained, "In myths, like dreams, we ought to be able to see ourselves in all of the characters." Consequently we are able to identify with everyone in the story, regardless of whether the character is good or bad.

Maybe that's why those Which Character Are You? tests bother me so much. In good storytelling, I can see myself as being anyone in the story - not just Aberforth Dumbledore.
What does this have to do with teaching? I'm not sure. However, I am convinced that good teaching is related to good storytelling. Therefore, I wonder how the "story" we are telling in our lessons is inviting learners to relate to all the "characters." The open questions described by Marian Small come to mind, but I think there's more to it than that.

I'm still thinking about this, but I wanted to get this out there in case anyone else had some wisdom about it. I'll get back to you if anything more comes to me. And don't blame me if this post left you wanting more - you were warned.

1 comment:

  1. I could not agreed more. My students pay attention when I am going over material (sometimes) but they LISTEN when I'm telling them a story. I'm not sure if it's because they see themselves in it, or because they enjoy being told stories, but the evidence speaks for itself.

    When I ask them months later to name something they learned in my class, they always name something that was told to them in a story rather than a problem we solved, or even a project we did.