Social & Emotional Learning (SEL)

All We Are: The Truth about Stories

March 7, 2008

"The truth about stories is, that's all we are." The words of Canadian writer Thomas King have been rattling around in my brain since I first heard them nearly two years ago. Most of us have grown up with some tradition of storytelling in our families, whether it was a nightly ritual when we went to bed or in conversations around the kitchen table after a Sunday meal.

Perhaps you have a relative that loves to spin a yarn or two, or maybe it is you, yourself, who recounts the family's memories and stories. It is one thing to say that we appreciate a good story. It is quite another to say that we, as human beings, are defined by our stories.

But when you think about it, you'll agree that stories are a powerful force in our lives: Architectural and visual-arts critic John Bentley Mays says we have stories to teach us, stories to heal us, stories to warn us, and stories to lead us.

I've come to see stories as being formative in that they have the power to fashion or shape us in some way. Some stories transform us, while others reform us. Some are designed to inform, and others encourage a level of conformity.

The main thread running through our school's arts@newman program this year is story -- specifically, stories of home. (See my blog entry about the program.) In the weeks and months to come, we will explore the stories we tell of coming, leaving, and being at home. We will use the arts to explore how our stories can help us to learn about ourselves, about others, and about our lives as members of a community.

Through drama, dance, visual arts, music, and media arts, we will unpack what it means to be a people of stories, and how all of us might contribute to the treasure we have in the stories we tell -- or, as Thomas King might say, the stories we are!

Do you have a favorite story from when you were growing up?

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