Monday, November 4, 2013

Story writing or telling using metaphors to teach and heal.

Girl Scouts-teaching cooperation with story telling.

Okay kids, let me tell you the story of the big bad wolf and the three little pigs

Story writing and telling has been with us for thousands of years. Think of the parables that Christ taught. And the Native American stories, the Buddhist stories, the Aboriginal stories that were passed on orally from generation to generation even before the people had ways to write them down. Then of course there are all those fairy tales we pass on to our children and they to their children. So why did all these cultures around the world tell and write stories?

You may be able to think of several reasons but I believe there are three main ones.
1. To teach lessons without directly telling people what to do.
2. To pass on beliefs and culture.
3. To help people heal by changing their thinking.

It is astonishing to me that even millennia ago people knew on some level that people's minds could pick up meanings on two levels: the conscious way and the unconscious way. Actually psychologists believe that the unconscious way is more long lasting and powerful because it circumvents resistance to an idea.

So how do you create a story to teach a lesson?
Here is an example:

Let's say you are a high school teacher and your students are bullying one of the students. You want to teach them to be kind and to cooperate with each other.

Write down the story you want to tell them to mirror what is happening at school.

1. Start by writing down your problem so you can keep it clearly in mind. What do you want to teach your students?

2. Hide your intentions. Start the story with, e.g., "Before we start class today, I'd like to tell you a story that I read on the internet (or saw on TV or wherever) that I thought was really interesting." Or "My uncle George came to visit us the other day and he told me this story..."

3. When you write your story you must hide the issue by changing the setting, the characters, the time and the plot to the point where the people whom you are talking to will not recognize themselves in the story, but not so much that they can't identify with the people in the story. They must be able to hear the lesson without realizing it. With younger children, animals work well as characters. With high school students, others their own age or a little older work best. Maybe at a park in Minneapolis or Chicago playing baseball.

3. In the plot change the events but parallel them to reality and create solutions you want your students to learn. "So the kids in the game refused to let one of the guys come to bat because he never hit the ball."

4. Now create solutions for them. "I was amazed when I saw the pitcher go over to the group and stand up for the guy. And what was even more amazing was that the catcher offered to teach him how to bat before practice---." And on and on. You get the idea.

5. When you actually tell your story to the students do so at an unexpected time like at the beginning of a school day or lesson.

Try it sometime. I used it with clients and my own children with great effect.
Actually it can work for everyone. At home. At work.  At play.

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