Sunday, June 20, 2010

Story and Symphony

People who follow my posts will know that a few weeks ago I attended a workshop at Munich International School with keynotes from Daniel Pink and Jason Ohler. Since being back at school I've been dipping into books written by both.

Jason says "I know only one thing for certain about the technologies that await us in the future: we will find ways to tell stories with them." He says that we all need stories as they enable us to "take snippets of life and put them together in ways that make it possible for us to learn and remember new things." Dan says the same thing - he says that stories are how we remember and that "most of our experience, our knowledge and our thinking is organized as stories." Our students, who live in an oral and digital world, are mostly confronted with print in our classrooms - a lot of their days are spent reading and passively consuming. Digital storytelling allows them to be creative and develop skills that can be transferred to solve problems in creative ways. It also encourages them to think critically about the persuasive powers of the media they are consuming.

Digital storytelling can be used in just about any subject in school, yet it often isn't seen as important as, for example, writing reports that just give the facts. In the first half of the year I was using Excel to show the Grade 7 students how they could graph the data collected from their science experiments and add these into their lab reports. Very dry and for the students very boring I'm sure. But by turning this around and making the students the teacher, having them use Web 2.0 tools to create something that would show a younger student how to use Excel, we had some amazing results. The students really cared about their presentations, the design of them, how to get their message across. Dan calls this "context enriched by emotion." He also says "story represents a pathway to understanding that doesn't run through the left side of the brain."

Story, therefore, is the second of the six aptitudes we will need in the Conceptual Age. Symphony is the third. Symphony is all about relationships and connections. Dan talks about boundary crossers - people who can operate in very different areas. He says the most creative and innovative people are those who see relationships that most of the rest never even notice and who can therefore combine existing ideas in new ways. It's also about seeing the big picture, for example the composer who can put all the individual instruments of the orchestra together in order to create beautiful music. And perhaps it's also the teacher who can see all the individual strengths of the children in the class, and can therefore pull them all together in a way that makes learning relevant and interesting for each and every one of them.

Photo Credit: Symphony by True2source

1 comment:

  1. I saw Jason Ohler a few years ago and I love the way he reminds of how necessary story is to society, learning, and understanding. Digital storytelling lets students interact with story in new, creative ways. Great post as always Maggie!