Pondering the waves of life.

Building Stories into life

Last week I attended a school parent breakfast seminar with Jennifer Fox Eades. I was there because I am a conference junkie, nerd and basically because anything that focuses upon making education a positive experience for young people has me hooked in.

She began by stating the most therapeutic thing you can do for a child is to give them a positive educational experience. She believes that if you build their educational experience you will build their well-being and equip them for life.  As she finished this sentence I recognized that I was now enthralled and my mind was racing towards applications and examples of this concept.  But then Jenny halted my educationally focused mind in its tracks, by saying that she only develops in her classrooms what has been successful at home.

Her talk would focus upon three things that happy, well-adjusted families do. As each of these ideas was developed I found myself reminiscing, being challenged and being invigorated. Happy families (or I found myself thinking schools) do three things: they tell stories, they have traditions and they focus on what is best in each other, their strengths.

Wow!! The whole of a childhood development guide and all parenting manuals reduced to three ideas!! And as I pondered further, I do believe she is right.

Stories are close to my heart. I love stories: true recounts of heroism and bravery, fictional tales of knights, princesses and love or even the collective oral mythology that reflects a family or community group. A good story allows us to engage, to join and to connect to whichever role we wish to play. When a story is told, there is the compulsory exaggeration, the fish that gets larger with each generation. I remember one of my younger sisters would always say to Dad as he was putting her to bed, “Can you read me a story from your mouth, please”. As Dad would create tales of the most ludicrous Australian folklore, each sibling would find their part and heritage and belonging was being born.

What can kill stories today? I believe it is a lack of time. Telling a story takes time; it takes time to read, to bond and to explore the world of the story with anyone. A child who listens to a story being read on an ipad, is not experiencing the same bonding and engagement as the child nestled in the lap of someone who loves them reading or telling a story to them. Listening to the tales from a grandparent can be so enriching. Take the time for a good story.

My next post will be on building traditions and celebrations into daily life.

If you want to check out Jenny Fox Eades work have a look on this site.





  1. I totally agree with you. As a high school teacher, I have found that by telling my students stories about my life, and experiences, it has allowed me to have a bond with my students. What I have found that prevents us teachers from telling stories is ,yes, technology, but also having to be careful about students twisting your words around. Or facing criticism. For example, since I teach special education, I told my students students about my struggles throughout school with having ADD. This made a parent unhappy and an administrator felt as though I should not have told my students I have a disability. I feel as though my students appreciated it and it has made our bond stronger.

    • Thank you for commenting on my blog. I find allowing students to understand your “human” side is valuable. For until a student connects with the teacher, there is little chance of them connecting with the subject matter which you wish to share. I do feel that technology can detract from stories, but at the same time there are ways to use it to enhance stories. There are two ways that I have found valuable; I have a little friend who is four living about a 13 hour drive away. So often before bed we Skype and I read her bedtime stories, she watches the screen as I read the stories and hold up the pictures and watch her face light up. She’ll often kiss the screen at the end of the story and say goodnight. The second way is that I will read a story book I purchase for my niece and nephews and record the podcast. Then when I post the book to them, they also get me reading to them. If distance is there, technology is wonderful, but if you are using this instead of quality time I believe you are greatly denying a child a valuable experience.

  2. I use my iPad to teach Edgar Allan Poe and Shakespeare. The students love it. I thought you meant personal real life stories. Haha. I use audio books a lot too.

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