Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The power of stories in creative education and business

Stories are the linchpin of our cultures and social development. Moreover, they are the key to economic revival. Stories and our ability to enjoy and learn from them are essential at all stages of life. Stories give us insight into the experiences of others, into histories we can learn from and futures we need to navigate. The arts of story creation, storytelling and story sharing must be nurtured in our homes, pre-schools, business schools and the worlds beyond. Increasingly storytelling and story sharing are recognised as critical life skills for successful business, career and personal development as well as being an important literacy and communication skill.

One of my favourite stories is one I read with my young daughter, ‘That Pesky Rat’ by Lauren Child. The book is about a rat’s quest to become a pet and find an owner. It captured my daughter’s imagination from a very young age (leading to enactments of living in a crisp packet) and, indeed, mine (for one I have a new perspective on crisp packets!). It is a book about the importance of belonging, having a home and being loved. For me the ability to share stories is synonymous with the messages of this book: a story shared is a sign of care and storytelling is about wanting to be heard, to be loved and find a home – in the hearts of minds of others.

Stories enable us develop a strong connection with others, give us fresh perspectives and cognitive ‘food’. Given the challenges being faced in the business world and jobs market it is perhaps no surprise that the ancient art of storytelling is enjoying a renaissance as a way of enabling people to shine and reach out and connect with their audiences, customers, potential partners, collaborators and co-creators. Movements such as Get Storied – an online network - and creative networking events such as Speakeasy give people a forum for crafting and sharing their stories. These stories captivate the imaginations of others, inspire and can move us to new realms of understanding and being.

Stories and our ability to enjoy and learn from them are essential at all stages of life. Stories are the linchpin of our cultures, society and yes, let’s face it, our economy’s revival. Self-leadership is about developing self-confidence, self worth, creative and innovative thinking and strong communication skills. These skills are as crucial to the education of children and young people in schools as they are to people in business, navigating a career journey or pursuing other life goals.

Storytelling and receiving – the ability to listen to and interpret stories – play a critical role in enabling these skills to develop. The real magic occurs when the stories inspire others to take on the impossible. It is the same for the would-be entrepreneur, business leader, writer, artist, political or other leader as it is for a pre-school child creating their own imaginary world inspired by the tale of rat who slept in a crisp packet.

"‘…when I am tucked into my crisp packet, I look up at all the cosy windows and wonder what it would be like to live with creature comforts.’ That Pesky Rat by Lauren Child (2003) "

Wishing you a year rich in stories and inspiration,
Sara Knowles, Connect Create

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