Stories are instruments for orienting human emotions to their contents

Again and still reading Kieran Egan’s Imaginative Approach. On the topic of story, he writes:

“No one can program a computer to recognize a story as distinct from other narratives. The instrument for detecting stories is human emotion.
So the kind of meaning stories deal with has to do with emotions. Stories are instruments for orienting human emotions to their contents. That is, stories do not just convey information about events and characters, nor do stories just convey information in a way that engages our emotions; stories orient, or shape, our emotions to the events and characters in a particular way – they tell us how to feel about their contents. No other form of language can do this, and so no other form of language can achieve the range and kinds of effects that stories can. The story is like a musical score and human emotions are the instrument it is designed to play.
The great power of stories, then, is that they perform two tasks at the same time. They are, first, very effective at communicating information in a memorable form, and, second, they can orient the hearer’s feelings about the information being communicated.” (p.10)

Instead of thinking of lessons or units as sets of objectives to attain, it is possible to think of them as good stories to tell in order to engage students’ imaginations and emotions. This will obviously lead teachers to think about the act of teaching rather differently.
In the imaginative classroom, teachers will always have in the back of their minds an impulse to look for ways to tell the story about the content of a lesson or a unit. What’s the story about this?” (p.12)

Ref: (italics in original; emphases in blue bold, mine) Kieran Egan (c2005) An Imaginative Approach to Teaching. Jossey-Bass: San Fransisco

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About backyardbooks

This blog is a kind of electronic storage locker for ideas and quotes that inform my research... literary research into fiction for young adults (with a special focus on New Zealand fiction). Kiwis are producing amazing literature for younger readers, but it isn't getting the academic appreciation it deserves. I hope readers of this blog can make use of the material I gather and share by way of promoting our fiction. Cheers!
This entry was posted in Metaphors and Narratives around children and learners, Understanding Education and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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