The Power of Story

"So What" Summary:

Story--

...is necessary for communication;

...can be a systematic framework for organizations;

...and provides a platform for persuasion.

Late last fall I submitted a proposal to travel to Oxford (yes, that “Oxford”). Bellarmine, graciously, provides one scholarship per year for those who can demonstrate how a fully-funded visit to the University of Oxford will enhance their research interests. I have always been a fan of “The Inklings” (especially Lewis and Tolkien) and The Inklings found their place, and passion for story, while they were studying, visiting, or teaching at Oxford. The Oxford Scholarship, affectionately known as the McGowan Prize, presented a wonderful opportunity for me to combine my love of story with my research interests and, this July, I traveled to England.

Here’s the problem…

I am not terribly “right-brained”, for those who take stock in such things. I am a creative problem-solver, but I am not creative in terms of art, music, or imagination. I dream big, but struggle creating aesthetically appealing dimension and design. Therefore, I rely on people like Ian Cox, Evan Cox and Morgan Davis. I have ideas but struggle to implement them in a way that is design-oriented. I write in a similar fashion.

I have been trained to “write” for academic journals and academic press outlets. Academic writing can be, at times, stoic and robotic. It is formulaic. The creative elements happen when you can clearly and concisely articulate your findings. There will always be a place for academic writing-but, what if you want more?

Here’s the next problem…

I teach in a similar fashion. We have made education formulaic, robotic. We have forgotten that our objective should be to bring our students into the narrative, the story. I went to Oxford because I have become more convinced that story should penetrate our teaching. We must bring students into the narrative.

After Oxford, I am more convinced that story should penetrate much more than education. It is necessary for communication, can be a systematic framework for organizations, and provides a platform for persuasion. For a logical left-brainer, Oxford reminded me that creativity and imagination are both part of what defines our humanity. Over the next few weeks I will be taking bits and pieces of my Oxford experience and will try to relay some lesson.

Photo Credit- University of Oxford

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