Updated: Mar 31
Introduction: Data With a Soul
We have three non-traditional article types:
1. Research Driven Storylines
2. In-Depth Analysis
3. Special Reports
"Maybe stories are just data with a soul." Brené Brown
Research Driven Storylines – that's our goal. As an intermediary between narrative nonfiction and historical fiction, we want to deliver a new dimension to the information we bring to the world. Through events, moments, and inspirations, we want to give empirical research and history the breath of growing life.
With top-five lists and articles on distant information, we've become efficient – too efficient. Our ability to take in new information is astonishing, but how often do we find content that settles in and transports you to true knowing?
During these times, the world is slowing down and making a significant pivot to redefining normal. Today's problem is not that we don't have enough information; the problem is that we don't always have the frameworks to hold all the data we receive. This is why we want to bring you this artful form of information giving. Perhaps, it can be a chance to restart on the right foot forward. To teach more than a few data points and paint a world of information.
A Forgotten Age
Among several inspirations, I was pulled into storytelling as a pedagogy tool because of Native American traditions. I remember when I first learned how they used storytelling to share their fellow tribe members' stories. As the idea sat, I tried to remember a time when I learned anything through a story. That's when I realized why they are so great. You can learn so much without even realize the message.
When you put down a novel, you forever have a system of someone's beliefs and ideas etched into your memories. When you hear of Goldilocks, you begin to see that there is always an option that is just right. Hanzel and Grettle and Little Red Riding Hood taught you about the danger of strangers. Storytelling leaves a framework of impressions that are far more useful than anything we are told.
The Native Americans lived in the slowed frequency of nature and were far removed from the incoming Europeans' rugged individualism. Through generations, pieces of the indigenous culture fell to the wayside as men, women, and children faced cruelty and assimilation. And with them, an important tradition was forgotten – a captivating pedagogy – the value of teaching through storytelling.
The Indian Way
When stories passed from elders to youth in indigenous communities, they looked upon what it meant to keep a sense of tribal identity. The hero's journey and individual identity were overlooked for a sense of community. It allowed memory to stretch beyond one's lifetime and gave stories a sense of occasion that expanded beyond time(1). The narrative would tell the story of the characters coming home and all the knowledge that he (or she) could share with others (2).
"There was no distinction between the individuals and racial experience, even as there was none between the mythical and historical. Both were realized for her in one memory, and that was of the land." (3)
We have often strayed from this perspective. Becoming increasingly self-focused, we often give the stories of our fellow citizens with the label of 'other,' - condition leading to a decaying world.
A culture that dehumanized and killed millions for the sake of Lebensraum. A world where nuclear aggression was only steps away from ending civilization as we knew it. We forgot to remember. We forgot that our experiences are only doors that others can pass through. We forgot the meaning of knowledge and wisdom.
You should understand The way it was, Back then, Because it is the same, Even now, (4)
The loss of wisdom causes a ripple effect that takes away from the mosaic of the human experience. And as we chase what we have forgotten, we destroy the world we are apart of because we can no longer see ourselves in it.
The Way it Was
Originality "consists not in the introduction of new materials but in the fitting of traditional materials effectively into each individual, unique, situation." (5)
I'm not saying that the indigenous form of pedagogy was superior to the ways of the colonial (and current) forms of education. Nor am I saying the opposite. Centuries ago, what should have happened centuries was not domination but a union of thought, culture, and wisdom. This fracture that pervades in American society today in unseen ways can only be healed by understanding.
For the Native American elders, their stories were used to sustain community, confirm experiences and epistemology, and guide how to live in the world (6). All of these are sorely needed in a country that is struggling to do all three.
Final Thoughts: Our Crisis
Research Driven Storylines are our attempt to doing this. To bring necessary information and let it manifest as the knowledge inside the world. Storytelling is the foundation of all human learning and teaching (7). So, let's make it a foundation of moving forward, and radiate from our school's walls into society.
"We are entering into an epistemological crisis… the biggest threat to our democracy." ~ Barack Obama
America is living in two different worlds deeply split between opposing facts and storylines. We must find the theme that unites the divide and define what it means to be American. Through the web of unrelated experiences, stories will help us find common ground we are so often blind to. For it is the silent mysteries that lie between the words of a story that gives us the chance to connect to our forgotten community – humanity.
(1) Salisbury, Ralph. "The Quiet Between Lightning and Thunder." Swann and Krupat 15-35.
(2) Ballenger, B. (1997). Methods of Memory: On Native American Storytelling. College English, 59(7), 789-800. doi:10.2307/378636
(3) Momaday, N. Scott. The Way to Rainy Mountain. Albuquerque: U of New Mexico P, 1969.
(4) Silko, Leslie Marmon. Ceremony. New York: Penguin, 1977.
(5) Ong, Walter. Orality and Literacy. London: Routledge, 1982.
(6) Archibald, J.-A.(2008). Indigenous Story Work: Educating the Heart, Mind, Body, and Spirit. Vancouver: UBCPress
Barnhardt, R., & Kawagley, A.O. (2005). Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Alaska Native Ways of Knowing. Anthropology and Education Quarterly, 36, 8-23. doi:10.1525/aeq.2005.36.1.008
Cajete, G. (2000). Native Science: Natural Laws of Interdependence. Santa Fe, NM: Clear Light
Kawagley, A.O. (1995). A Yupiaq Worldview: A Pathway to Ecology and Spirit. Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press.
Michell, H. (2005). N¯ehıˆthaˆwaˆk of Reindeer Lake, Canada: Worldview, Epistemology, and Relationships With the Natural World. The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education, 34, 33–43.
(7) Cajete, G. (1994). Look to the Mountain: An Ecology of Indigenous education. Durango, CO: Kivaki Press.