Part II of the text, like Part I, included so many memorable lines:
- "Story is like air. It's big, it's everywhere, and we need it to stay alive" (p. 157).
- And Thomas King's line, "Stories are all we are" (p. 159).
- And this: "Each student is a unique storyteller looking for the most effective way to get in touch with the story within" (p. 128).
- Or how about, "We forget lectures, but we remember stories" (p. 123).
- Story is about "how people change, learn, and grow because of the challenges and opportunities in their lives" (p. 96).
So, what is story? It’s all of these things, I guess. It’s the way we, as human beings, communicate…even when we don’t mean to; even when we aren’t aware. We may not set out to tell a story, but it’s rare that story doesn’t make its way into our interactions with others. I consider some of the most boring, seemingly pointless meetings I have attended, including some of the longest PowerPoint presentations in the history of mankind: Even in these settings, story has made its way into the mix. I serve as the District Test Coordinator for my small school district, and the many two or three day trainings I have attended have hardly been “story worthy.” However, at each of these, there are stories. DTCs share stories of testing fiascos; EED folks tell tales of boxes of SBA materials falling out of small planes and “secure” materials being left on district office doorsteps late on a Friday, only to be covered by a foot of snow when D.O. personnel arrive on Monday morning. The content on the PowerPoint slides is not worthy of comment, but the stories that illustrate the rules and regulations and requirements help me remember.
Last fall, I was thrilled when our small local telephone cooperative advertised the availability of the Samsung Galaxy 5. I put my name on the list and was among the first in the area to possess the nifty device. Once connected to my Google account, I couldn’t get over all of the “stuff” the phone automatically did for me. One of the most amazing was (and still is) the way the technology creates stories for me. In fact, it creates stories with the photographs I take…and I don’t even realize there is a story there until my phone “dings” and tells me there is a new “story” ready for me to view. “Weekend in Fairbanks,” or “Trip to Palm Springs,” or “Wednesday Night in Willow Creek” … the technology even gives the story a name (which I can change, of course, thanks to the ease of use in editing and personalizing each story). There’s a map to illustrate each place I have traveled (thanks to GPS built into the device), a calendar identifying the date and which day of the trip is represented (January 26: Monday. Day 10), and then the magic behind Google selects photos for me (including videos), and places them in a pleasing, artsy layout that’s ready for me to swipe through, and edit as I please (“Select Moments,” it tells me as it displays all of the photos taken at each location, each identified by name via GPS locating technology). Some of the photos have even been enhanced via Google’s “Auto Awesomeness” technology…so a simple photo I snap with my phone of a moose, an arrangement of flowers, or my parents’ barn on a recent trip to Minnesota, suddenly becomes a stunning work of art thanks to filters, automatically applied, that make the photo look like an oil painting, a charcoal sketch, or a watercolor.
Forgive me if this is all old news. Each and every time "A new story is waiting for you" appears on my phone notifications, I am in awe. I can’t believe I live at a point in history where this kind of technology is available, period. More so, I can’t believe I’m so fortunate as to exist at a point in time where telling our stories has become so much a part of life that new media helps to do this for us, as if we're so busy just "being" that we can't be bothered with recording the stories of our lives.
BUT, danger exists in the technology, as well. “If we don’t create our own stories, someone else will do it for us” (p. 134). New media makes telling stories easier…and more challenging. Technology can now take control of our moments and parse and piece them into stories that we may or may not want to tell. Or, the “Auto Awesomeness” may not be awesome as it seems if we let it take control instead of serving as a tool to illustrate a story that begins in our minds, on sheets of blank paper as we map the stories need telling with arcs, maps, tables, quests, treasure maps, adventure diagrams, whatever.
As noted in the text, story can be personal, academic, instructional, reflective, entertaining, and more. Stories are built on and reveal transformation. "Students come to school already understanding the story form and expect to find it in use” (Egan, cited by Ohler, p. 100). Students learn about stories in school, but imagine the powerful shift they would experience if school became a series of transformational, story-making events. Pretty cool.
Ohler, J. (2013). Digital Storytelling in the Classroom: New Media Pathways to Literacy, Learning, and Creativity. Second Edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.