It Starts With Stories


I tend to bring in a lot through a feelings filter. And I don’t just attach my own personal feelings, sensing my way through some situations when it might be better for me to just take a deep breath and “slow my roll” (as people way cooler than me might say).

My thing is I sense the feelings of others and sometimes think into that a little too much. Sad songs, sad movies…Ohmigod when kids in a movie suffer or struggle in some horrible situation despite their wide-open hearts and hope for a better future?

Shit, I’m crying for sure. Please don’t look at me. Or maybe I’ll just go to the kitchen quick to “grab another beer” or “get a snack quick” (a.k.a. do whatever that excuse I made up was but also quickly wipe the tears away on my shirt before I return).

So many moments like this while watching different movies, and for different reasons. It isn’t always about the kids. Loving Vincent is probably the best most recent example. It shook me. It was one of those movies I walked away from really happy that I saw it but really sure I wouldn’t be ready to watch it again any time soon. It so engaged my love of story, my sympathetic take on what I already knew of van Gogh’s life as well as my passion for art and music… That movie brought paintings to life, made them move and speak and tell that story. And it was heavy. Wow.

I want to see it again. But I think it needs to be with others, on a nice day, with a brief drink and snack plate intermission somewhere. Try to give it a trip to France sort of feel to keep it light. And then do something really fun with those people afterward.

The kids thing, though? That one is tough. The movie My Girl hit me pretty hard and I won’t ruin it for anyone who hasn’t seen it. But even worse, Radio Flyer. I just went to snatch and drop that link there and only saw the briefest of a promotional summary,

When the younger brother is subjected to physical abuse at the hands of their brutal stepfather, Mike decides to convert their toy trolley…”

…and I’m already feeling it. I loved that movie for how much it made me hate it, and I have gone back to the ROKU a few times over the past few years to see if it’s streaming free on one of the channels. Over a decade and it still hadn’t. Is it that popular? I’m going to check again in a bit just to see, but I’m not sure if I’m ready to watch it again.

Like these movies, the stories I’ve been told or the ones I have lived became powerful life memories, lessons, and reference points through the emotions attached to them. From the ones where I made a righteous Tom Sawyer fool of myself trying to get the attention of my Becky Thatcher (her name is Carla), to the stories I was just witness or audience to… The ones told to me by my family members, stories have entertained me, taught me, altered my perspective, my outlook… These stories affected how I parent and how I teach.

My belief is that for people, emotions attach themselves to our lives events and that makes those events become “stories”, making them more indelible and retrievable for information that can be used later on. It’s why oral histories and oral traditions are so important. It’s how we share who we are and become aware of who others are. It’s how we convey lessons, successes, failures, culture, and so much more. It’s how families and communities connect and spread that feeling of belonging, of commitment, of shared purpose.

What follows is going to be a bit of all of that, along with the suggestion that we try to push for public education to be a tool for true engagement of learners with their world and the others who are in it through more engagement with stories. Real-life stories, made-up stories, stories from the page, or stories on stage… The current trend to measure, label, and dehumanize the goals, purpose, and process of education has had negative impacts- especially in this age of screen addiction and perpetual distraction and misinformation. I’m saying we need to slow down, come together, and share more stories. And I’m saying there are great reasons to do it, and great ways to do it.

Just went to check. Radio Flyer is still in the pay extra to get it category.

So click here, and it’s on to storytime.


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