Widgets The Good Place (Michael L. Umphrey on gardening, teaching, and writing)

"Peace is not an absence of war; it is a virtue, a state of mind, a disposition for benevolence, confidence, justice. - Benedict Spinoza."

Levels of storytelling, Part 1
     Everyday stories

Early in the twentieth century, William Graham Sumner in Folkways pointed out that stories such as Bud Cheff’s a person learns “what conduct is approved or disapproved; what kind of man is admired most; how he ought to behave in all kinds of cases; and what he ought to believe and respect.” He reminds us that “all this constitutes . . . the most essential and important education.”

This level of everyday narration may be thought of as a first level of storytelling. It goes on among us almost without pause. If the values we express in this level of narration aren’t consistent with what we say we believe and want, then we probably aren’t going where we think are.

Teachers who complain about administrators, for example, but also claim that students should respect their authority are, at best, incoherent. To get a grasp on what a school actually teaches, as opposed to what it merely espouses, visit the teachers’ lounge and listen to the stories teachers are telling about students, parents, and administrators. This will give you a better guide to a school’s moral intelligence and purpose than whatever is said in character classes or board meetings.


Posted by Michael L Umphrey
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2005 Michael L. Umphrey
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