Poster: dawn is our classroom Dawn Poster
                                       ". . .What we have loved
Others will love, and we will show them how."

                                                          William Wordsworth

The Gift of Stories

Alcestis “Cooky” Oberg has an article about life stories as priceless gifts in USA Today. She makes a point that heritage teachers encounter over and over again--when students encounter stories from their families and communities, they also learn important lessons about how to live that aren’t easy to teach into today’s diverse and divided schools. She notes that the story her godfather gave to his grandson is full of important understandings:

His grandson is not going to find on television the tale of becoming the man of the family at 16 years old either, as my godfather did. He financially supported his mother and sister after his father died during the Depression, while putting himself through Northwestern University on athletic scholarships and odd jobs. He kept 50 cents in his pocket for emergencies and sent everything else home. Self-sacrifice and responsibility for others are not part of the manly role model that is taught in movie chase scenes and shoot-’em-ups, or by celebrity misbehavers and cheaters.

It’s the truth of the stories told that make them so important:

Our kids need to know real things about life besides the lame fantasies they get on television: the life we lived, the good and bad choices we made, the lessons we learned, what we’d do if we had it to do over again. In short, whether role model or cautionary tale, the real story of our lives is the best thing we can give kids because it’s true, and they’ll learn from it.

Oberg suggests that adults begin writing their stories as gifts to younger family members:

Whether housewife or doctor, truck driver or engineer, lawyer or lineman, we all have stories to tell — great stories. Perhaps we could write, record, or videotape these stories for our youngsters in installments over the years — something for them to look forward to during the holidays. They hardly know us or know what’s important in life anymore, amid today’s noise and clutter.

We will better understand education’s historic role as the means through which succeeding and overlapping generations find what they most need in each other--the young need wisdom and the old need acts of regeneration--as this simple idea is recognized to be as profound as it really is.

Here are a couple examples of what’s possible: and

Posted by Michael L Umphrey
on 12/20 at 02:35 PM
(0) Comments • (0) TrackbacksPermalinkPrinter-FriendlyE-mail this page
© 2005 Montana Heritage Project
Page 1 of 1 pages