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The Power of Stories

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Olympic Skier Lindsay Vonn with her bruised/broken arm in a sling

Ten years ago I started a student blog at the behest of the OU as part of the Masters in Open & Distance Education (MAODE). This was my second go at this having started nine years previously with the MAODL (Distance Learning). 

I came from corporate training. Coming from teaching might have been more appropriate, and teaching in Higher Education in particular. I thought the outcome would be back into industry, whereas it has instead been a route into Education. It might have lead to research. I did prepare a PhD thesis and took this to Southampton.

Events closer to home have me reflecting on the power of story, no matter how or where it is expressed. We are highly tuned in to pay attention to a well told drama.

Our drama lately has been a broken arm (not me) and the unexpected knock on effects and lessons learnt in relation to the medical systems and approach in France and the UK, to being freelance or working fulltime, and a wake up call to what it takes to care for someone. 

The story of this break and its consequences is shared with friends and over a few days it finds its own shape. You learn how to retain attention as one event and its consequences and all the subsequent decissions that are taken, and their consequences too. Let alone the other brickbats that get thrown your way to complicate it all further.

And the conclusion is?

Count your blessings

Smile and get on with it

Remember your friends and family as they remember you

Be prepared for this and worse happening

And in relation to learning?

Holding a students attention

Providing engagement which has a purposeful direction

Letting people draw their own conclusions

Listen to feedback and add this to the lessons being learnt

The vitality that comes from a story with emotional appeal, crisis, pain and laughter, consequences and outcomes. 

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Design Museum

The shape of stories

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 30 Mar 2015, 11:13
From Writing

Kurt Vonnegut's wanted to write an MA thesis on the common shapes of stories: he was told it was too simple. He can be found in various interviews and presentations waxing lyrical about the shape stories take.

His are: 1) Cinderella: needs no elaboration. Applies to implemental steps of progress, radical failure then absolute glory.

2) Boy Meets Girl similar: we know it. Applies to any story of desire for something, its loss, then recovery. Also romcom territory. 

3) Man in a Whole: things go bad, then you get out of your whole. Shawshank Redemtion. Martian. Haruki Murakami wrote a novel in which the protagonist was really down a well much of the time. I feel I'm most inclined to relate to and to write this one.

4) New Testament: like Cinderella–gifted things, which are then taken away before being returned with interest.

5) Old Testament: gifted things that are taken away forever.

6) Creation Stories: God made Earth in seven days ...

7) From Bad to Worse: And it never gets better. Says it all. Fallen.

8) Which Way Is Up: That ambiguity in life where we don't know what is good or bad from actions and events. Probably the hardest to sustain. Hamlet. 

What you get if you use a plot generator smile

 Have a go with Plot Generator

Of far better use is TV Tropes, which is a cross-media analysis of story types, with examples and links to the authors. 

 

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