Storytelling as Medicine
“There are books full of great writing
that don’t have very good stories.
Read sometimes for the story…
don’t be like the book-snobs who won’t do that.
Read sometimes for the words–the language.
Don’t be like the play-it-safers who won’t do that.
But when you find a book that has both
a good story and good words, treasure that book.”
― Stephen King
How much it was pleasant for us at school when the teacher started a new lesson with the magical words: “There was once…” or some similar words. It had a captivating powerful effect where the teacher had the full class attention.
And how disappointing then it was when the bell rang ending this little moment of magic, but it was making us excited waiting for the next lesson with that same teacher, whom we used to call “The cool teacher!”
Since childhood we are told stories, real stories, but often fantasy stories, heroes stories, fairies stories, stories where it is natural for us who listen to feel in the core of the action, not to say always as the main character of the adventure.
It is however sad when graduating to higher classes there are less stories and more “serious stuff” as if stories were not serious stuff!
I can still remember my math class when for the first time I discovered trigonometry and solid geometry, the teacher knew this would be the challenge of his life to introduce such abstract concepts into the heads of young teens, so it was through a story that we discovered the whole and amazing adventure of such science, from when it started with the Egyptian through the many steps on the timeline of human history until it reached the Enlightenment age of the 18th century at the hand of Leonhard Euler who put the foundations of the modern trigonometry. I assure you if it wasn’t a captivating story I would have never remembered the various milestones and above all still remembering the fundamentals of trigonometry until now!
How desolating it is to hear, today, students saying to me “But what do I need all this for?” or when at the end of the school year most students throw away their text books smiling at me with the so known smile to an aging person (Me) that “we don’t keep things we don’t need anymore!” Duh!
They are not to blame, simply because they never learned the story of every single thing they received from their teachers at school… How often I felt the condescending smiles of colleagues when I shared about storytelling to my student in multimedia, the story of colours, or typefaces (I used to tease fellow teachers asking them what was the difference between a serif and a san-serif typeface or what were the primary colours… I really enjoyed their faces staring as I was speaking Klingon) yes because we also learn about colours and typefaces in Multimedia!
An amazing well-known story from the creator of Tintin the reporter whose adventures captivated generations of young people and adults. HERGÉ (The author) never travelled to any country, yet he told stories of around the world, he even inspired the future of space adventure when he described the laboratory of the space ship that took Tintin and his friends for their first step on the moon (Destination Moon).
People need the imaginary and love stories they can find themselves in as actors or better as heroes, our popular heroes Superman, Batman and all the others who kept generations in their dreams of the fantastic! Making their heroes also people from the ordinary able to do amazing things for their kind. Education is what people need the most to attain their dreams, connecting both has never been as important as in our days. Our history must continue so the coming generations will be able to continue our passage in humanity’s timeline.
How much of a story teller are you? How many stories do you tell to your students every day? Yes they need to learn and capture knowledge, but how nicer would it be the way they like, we can be sure they will remember their stories of knowledge forever…
Michel – December 19, 2014
 Georges Prosper Remi: (22 May 1907 – 3 March 1983), known by the pen name Hergé, was a Belgian cartoonist. His best known and most substantial work is the 23 completed comic books in The Adventures of Tintin series, which he made from 1929 until his death in 1983. He was also responsible for two other well-known series, Quick & Flupke (1930–40) and Jo, Zette and Jocko (1936–57). His works were executed in his distinct ligne claire drawing style.