Wednesday, July 28, 2004

stories, stories and their educative value

I love stories. But 3 times in the last week I have wondered; do they help or hinder?

I am in class and someone asks me for an example. I am writing a book and I am told to provide more stories to demonstrate some ideas. So, I start to talk, to write, about a story from my experience.

And I pause…
does the use of story make me into an expert?
does the use of story make me seem more together than I am?
does the use of a story reduce people’s own ability to be creative?

I want to open up horizons, free people to be who God wants them to be. What is the place of personal story in teaching?

Posted by steve at 04:28 PM


  1. I suppose there are potential negatives to using stories, such as reducing the ability of others to be creative, or making you (and me) look far more together than you really are — but I think the positives far outweigh them. I see stories as mirrors of the truth — “This is a time when this was true for my life…perhaps you can relate in some way.”

    Stories are in some ways points of application. “Let me take you back into my past, to show you how this truth might be relevantly applied in your future.”

    Comment by john — July 28, 2004 @ 6:13 pm

  2. The other basic value of stories in an educative sense is that they are easy to remember. People remember the story and are reminded of the point. I can track a whole bunch of key insights which I have arrived at based on the story or experience that they turned on.

    From the perspective of teaching creativity, the use of stories I believe can attune people to their own stories – and learn to see the wisdom, insights etc into the narratives and experiences in their own lives, which, hopefully, they will go on to share with others.

    Comment by dan — July 28, 2004 @ 6:21 pm

  3. For people who are ‘Sensing’ rather than iNtuitive, sotries are often more helpful as a way to ‘grok’ what is being talked/written about. PArt of good educative method is to provide for different learning styles; story is part of that. Wahtever you think about CS Lewis, part of his appeal is that way he knew haow to illustrate and tell stories as well as to reflect on the key issues. To tell a story well in an educational situation, implies a deep/well-engaged knowing of the topic.

    And doesn’t Jesus’s methodology deserve some credit …?

    Comment by Andii Bowsher — July 28, 2004 @ 10:21 pm

  4. agree with these comments although my own perception is that stories, particulalry from the preacher, can often end up alienating the hearers because of the unending number of spiritual, and other, amazing stories that seem to come forth from the preacher’s life. I am convinced of the necessity of personal story, testimony, whatever, but I am still trying to work out how to do that most effectively without raising my own life up as an extraordinary experience that unconsciously others know (or think they know) they will never themselves experience. Does that make sense?

    Comment by finker — August 7, 2004 @ 10:25 am

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