When did you learn to walk? Or ride a bike? Do you remember the precise moment that everything clicked or was it a gradual process of tiny steps? Steps that you barely realised were happening until, suddenly, you were doing it!
Learning is often an invisible process. So much of the foundations are laid in secret before we even see any results. But every single footprint along the way has inestimable valuable in the adventure.
Actually, humans process every single instance of change into a story. You may not even realise you are doing it, but I challenge you this week to test the theory. When something upsets you or excites you, take a moment to ask yourself – ‘what story am I creating about this? How is it affecting me?’ There are neutral facts like ‘the weather is rainy today’, and then there are the meanings we overlay onto them: ‘Argh, great, now my seasonal depression is about to hit’, or ‘Hooray! The garden is finally getting some water!’ or ‘Oh no! This is the worst day. Everything is ruined.’ You can see how a simple statement can turn into a myriad of different stories in each moment.
But it doesn’t end there.
These stories then become part of our identities. Our identities lead to certain behaviours and these behaviours result in specific outcomes.
As we write our own stories, they, in effect, write us.
The Story-Based Learning model is based upon the notion that to enhance the learning outcomes of students we need to design new experiences so new stories can emerge. It isn’t enough to just tell students to tell themselves a different story. So often these stories are hard to isolate because they have been with us from an early age. To change – to actually see transformation – we need to provoke a conscious recognition and retelling, through a new, positive and life-giving experience.
When we follow the river back to its source, and discover the unparalleled power of story, we can start to unravel the painful or unhelpful tales that have shaped us. But it isn’t through a mere impartation of facts, or flicking through the pages of a textbook, that we arrive in this space. True learning – learning which reaches to the very core of our characters – must be discovered through experience. And new experiences are most transformative when they happen in a deep and well-connected community.
So, as we go through life, let’s keep an eye out for transformative moments. They can happen anywhere, and often occur when we least expect them. And just as Jesus met with people in their moments of need – whether it be spiritual, physical, intellectual or emotional – so too are we (those who believe in Christian education) called to do the same.
All it takes to see a life transformed is to truly see a person in the moment and to speak a new story – a new life – into being.