Tag: transformational storytelling (Page 2 of 2)

Educational Storytelling: Constructing the Tale, A Hero’s Journey

This post is part of a series that explores the Basics of Educational Storytelling. Largely taken from my master”™s thesis, The Value and Principles of Educational Storytelling (which can be read here), this I will lay the foundation for an educational storytelling model regardless of setting and medium. We look at the basic elements of storytelling, five guiding principles and educational stories, and practical tips.

Check out the rest of the series.

Finally its here! We have discussed the value of educational storytelling, the different elements of story (plot, setting, character), and one of the guiding principles of stories that teach. Now it’s time to dig into constructing stories for education. What is the skeleton of an educational story?

We will use the Hero’s Journey as a skeleton for our story. We first looked at this journey. There is a comprehensive series elsewhere on my blog.

I am a fan of simplicity. Many Hero’s Journey outlines include 12 or 15 stages plus a dozen archetypes. I have boiled this down to five pieces of the Journey, each with an important task.

  1. The Hero and the Cast of Characters
  2. The Hero and the Ordinary World, Broken
  3. The Hero and the Journey
  4. The Hero and the Moment
  5. The Hero and the Repercussions

We will walk through the first three this week and the final two next week. As we work through this, remember our first guiding principle: Hero Audience Bonding.

We create a hero the audience can learn through, vicariously. As the hero progresses through the story, learning and problem solving, the audience will learn the same lessons “” given they have bonded with the main character.

Learning Goals

As this is an educational story, there are objectives. We want the students to learn something. It is important to define what these objectives are. They can be identity oriented learning (morals) or process oriented learning (math) goals. And, there may be several goals. Perhaps along the road to learning the dangers of lying, the hero also learns the distributive property and bits of the scientific method? Whatever the case may be, establish theme to yourself early so you can keep on focus.

The Hero and the Cast of Characters

The hero is not the only character in your story. Supporting characters, villains, mentors, even talking trees all have a place in the tale. When we went through characters, we listed several archetypes essential to the Hero’s Journey. Those character types are also relevant here, and they each play a specific role in teaching.

Each character is an archetype and  has a connection to the hero.

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Hero Audience Bonding in Educational Storytelling

This post is part of a series that explores the Basics of Educational Storytelling. Largely taken from my master”™s thesis, The Value and Principles of Educational Storytelling (which can be read here), this I will lay the foundation for an educational storytelling model regardless of setting and medium. We look at the basic elements of storytelling, five guiding principles and educational stories, and practical tips.

Check out the rest of the series.

So far, we have discussed the value of Educational Stories, and looked at the basic elements of storytelling (character, plot, and setting) and ran through an overview of our guiding principles for educational storytelling. The first is Hero Audience Bonding.

Throughout the rest of this series, we will talk about two kinds of learning: Identity/Social oriented and Process oriented. Identity oriented learning is that learning which stories have traditionally been useful: teaching morals, self-esteem, and social behavior. Process oriented learning has gotten less story-limelight. This is learning in disciplines like math and science, where the audience is capturing processes and methods for reproducing results.

Storytelling can be used for both types of learning, and we will discuss each. The cornerstone of educational storytelling is Hero Audience bonding. In short,

We create a hero the audience can learn through, vicariously.

As the hero progresses through the story, learning and problem solving, the audience will learn the same lessons — given they have bonded with the main character. So, what makes a hero “bondable?” Identification, empathy, complexity, and a want, a wound, and a need.

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More Transformational Storytelling Revolutionaries

My research centers around transformational storytelling, multimodal, interactive storytelling, and (to a large degree), differentiated instruction . I advocate using new technology as one means of telling these life-altering stories. It all basically comes down to

How can we tell engaging stories that teach, heal, and transform lives?

That’s a pretty simple, pretty powerful concept. A while back, I posted several other revolutionaries. Here are some more:

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The Stanford Storytelling Project

The Stanford Storytelling Project is an arts program at Stanford University that explores how we live in and through stories and how we can use them to change our lives. Our mission is to promote the transformative nature of traditional and modern oral storytelling, from Lakota tales to Radiolab, and empower students to create and perform their own stories. The project sponsors courses, workshops, live events, and grants. 

This is one of my favorite research organizations, and they have a lot going on. While they focus primarily n the tranformative nature of oral storytelling, a lot of the principles can be related to written, visual, and whatever else. They produce a lot of episodes, podcasts, and material. Not to mention that it is Stanford University, so the professors publish on these topics as well.

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Elements of Story: Setting

This post is part of a series that explores the Basics of Educational Storytelling. Largely taken from my master”™s thesis, The Value and Principles of Educational Storytelling (which can be read here), this I will lay the foundation for an educational storytelling model regardless of setting and medium. We look at the basic elements of storytelling, five guiding principles and educational stories, and practical tips.

Check out the rest of the series.

See also Elements of Story: Character and Elements of Story: Plot

Building Blocks of Story

Before we can tell great educational stories, we must learn to tell great stories. Three of the greatest storytelling teachers of our time — Robert McKeeChristopher Vogler, and Donna Cooper — have spent their lives discovering what makes a story work. I have synthesized their researcher so that we can stand on the shoulders of giants.

Working from our basic definition of story:

A person (character) doing something (plot) in a place and time (setting).

Setting

Robert McKee (1997)

McKee defines setting as the period, duration, location, and level of conflict. “These four dimensions frame the story’s world; but to inspire the multitude of creative choices you need to tell an original, cliche-free story, and you must fill that frame with a depth and breadth of detail” (p. 181 ). In other words, the author of a story must create a world that is as believable and real as the world we all exist in. The fictitious world, may not follow the same laws of nature, but must work according to a sense of internal logic (p. 186).

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Elements of Story: Plot

This post is part of a series that explores the Basics of Educational Storytelling. Largely taken from my master”™s thesis, The Value and Principles of Educational Storytelling (which can be read here), this I will lay the foundation for an educational storytelling model regardless of setting and medium. We look at the basic elements of storytelling, five guiding principles and educational stories, and practical tips.

Check out the rest of the series.

See also Elements of Story: Character and Elements of Story: Setting

Building Blocks of Story

The term “story” can be defined in a thousand ways. Believe me, I’ve done the research. Many of these definitions are important, wielding long lists of elements and features, but are a bit overly complex for our purpose today. For an introduction to educational storytelling, and a primer of story itself, let’s stick to the basics. A story is:

A person (character) doing something (plot) in a place and time (setting).

As I did in the previous post about Character, I will synthesis the teaching from three of the greats. Robert McKeeChristopher Vogler, and Donna Cooper are three of the most respected screenwriting and story construction teachers. While they teach screenwriting, the principles they have discovered are effective in any medium.

Plot

We have our person (or dolphin or alien or teapot) that acts as a character, but that character must do something. In all but the most experimental stories, the protagonist (the main character) is a willful character, not ambling around waiting for something to happen. In most cases, there was some event (inciting incident) that drives the character forward. You can structure this in many ways. This is the plot. Let’s see what our experts have to say.

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Fellow Revolutionaries in Transformational Storytelling

My research centers around transformational storytelling, multimodal, interactive storytelling, and (to a large degree), differentiated instruction . I advocate using new technology as one means of telling these life-altering stories. It all basically comes down to

How can we tell engaging stories that teach, heal, and transform lives?

That’s a pretty simple, pretty powerful concept. And, like all things simple and powerful, it is shared by many others. Educators, scholars, artists, pastors, counselors, and many others are tackling the ideas of digital and transformational storytelling. This is a revolution — a revolution worth joining.

To that end, I wanted to start a conversation in hopes of bringing some of these revolutionaries together. These are a few of the individuals and groups who have inspired me by tackling difficult challenges in innovative ways. This is not a complete list, and it isn’t meant to be. Nor does this list include many of the scholars on whom I draw for theoretical foundations. I will post about the giants upon whose shoulders I stand another time.

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Elements of Story: Character

This post is part of a series that explores the Basics of Educational Storytelling. Largely taken from my master”™s thesis, The Value and Principles of Educational Storytelling (which can be read here), this I will lay the foundation for an educational storytelling model regardless of setting and medium. We look at the basic elements of storytelling, five guiding principles and educational stories, and practical tips.

Check out the rest of the series.

See also Elements of Story: Plot and Elements of Story: Setting

Building Blocks of Story

Before we can dive into educational stories, we must investigate stories in general. Scholars and storytellers share a favorite past-time: arguing about the elements of a story. Some definitions include close to a dozen like setting, plot, character, theme, motif, symbol, point of view, and so forth. Since this is an introduction, and not a series on the elements of story, we will stick to a simpler definition of a story:

A person (character) doing something (plot) in a place and time (setting).

I will stand on the shoulders of three storytelling giants to look at each element in turn. Robert McKeeChristopher Vogler, and Donna Cooper are three of the most respected screenwriting and story construction teachers. While they teach screenwriting, the principles they have discovered are effective in any medium.

Character

So, we begin with character. What exactly is a character?

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The Value of Educational Storytelling

This post is part of a series that explores the Basics of Educational Storytelling. Largely taken from my master”™s thesis, The Value and Principles of Educational Storytelling (which can be read here), this I will lay the foundation for an educational storytelling model regardless of setting and medium. We look at the basic elements of storytelling, five guiding principles and educational stories, and practical tips.

Check out the rest of the series.

Joy of a Tale Well Told

Stories hold power. They captivate our imaginations, transport us to places unseen, and let us explore parts of ourselves otherwise hidden. They are great fun. But can story be more? Can stories teach? Do they show us how to act, what not to say, and how to be us? Are some narratives examples to live by, and pictures of what to avoid. Can stories effectively be used to teach, heal and transform lives?

Stories are part of humanity, and have been ever since, and probably before, humankind took to speech. John Niles (2010) even went as far as to call humankind Homo Narrans, “storytelling man.” And as long as people have been telling stories, others have been analyzing, dissecting, and using stories for very intentional reasons: to affect the behavior and identities of individuals or entire populations. Cultures have developed myths, legends, and works of fiction core to identity, history, and moral behavior, and the transmission of knowledge. This is not a past society phenomenon. Narrative still shapes our daily lives, be it intentional or unintentional. It seems that stories can be a great deal more than fun.

Stories, Language, and Identity

Stories can be used in formal educational settings. One such use is to introduce foreign cultures to local students in captivating ways. The modern classroom is diverse, many students know little of their heritage or the heritage of their peers. According to Campano (2007) “one of the most powerful interventions that teachers can make for immigrant students is to celebrate the human and academic value of their stories” (p. 48).

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Series: The Basics of Educational Stories

My research is largely devoted to transformational storytelling. That can mean many things: stories for education, therapy, counseling, moral instruction, identity management, and on and on and on. What’s more, the concept of stories that transform lives (like everything else in scholardom) has the potential to be very esoteric, theoretical, and abstract. These facets of any research are important, but I do not which to do research for research sake. If transformational stories are to change lives there must be practical applications with models and methods for applying them.

To that end, I am beginning a new series entitled The Basics of Educational Storytelling. Largely derived from my master’s thesis, The Value and Principles of Educational Storytelling (which can be read here), this series hopes to lay the foundation for an educational storytelling model regardless of setting and medium.

Specifically, we will explore the value, history, theoretical foundation, and basic use cases for educational storytelling as well as common elements of engaging storytelling.

I will describe Five Guiding Principles and explore the differences between teaching social-oriented principles (values, identity, etc) and process-oriented principles (math, science, etc).

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Transformational Storytelling

Stories hold power. They captivate our imaginations, transport us to places unseen, and let us explore parts of ourselves otherwise forever hidden. They are great fun. But can stories be more?

Do they teach us how to act, what not to say, and how to be us? Are some narratives examples to live by, and pictures of what to avoid. Can stories effectively be used to teach, heal and transform lives? What about in less grandiose uses? Sure, morality tales can guide behavior, but how can stories be used to teach concrete principles or rote memory concepts like mathematics or science? I say yes, and this part of my blog is dedicated to exposing research-based concepts and models to the public. More than that, we will look at very specific ways to create transformational stories. More importantly, this is to be an open forum. Post comments and ask question. You can explore my academia.edu profile for more scholarly work.

Consider this from my second Master’s thesis in which I investigated narrative identity from an anthropological perspective.

Stories are part of humanity, and have been ever since (and probably before) mankind took to speech. John Niles (Niles 2010) even went as far as to call humankind Homo Narrans, “storytelling man.” And as long as people have been telling stories, others have been analyzing, dissecting, and using stories for very intentional reasons: to affect the behavior and identities of individuals or entire populations. It seems that stories can and are a great deal more than fun. We will see this as we develop an analytical framework useful for looking at the internalization of stories into a personal identity narrative and the externalization of this identity narrative through performative identity.

Be sure to comment below!

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