A repost from 2012:
I’ve been wondering why storytelling is so challenging. But then I thought that, for the past few hundred years at least, the modus operandi of teachers has been to simply intimidate kids in classrooms. (Tolstoy recalled his years in school as “the worst of his life…filled with endless boring tasks.”)
Think of Au Revoir les Enfants or Alain Fournier’s Le Grand Meaulnes. It is an archetype, the teacher pulling on the ear of the boy with too much energy. The kid trying to get out of school, trying to get somewhere safe.
Carl Jung says that we all share a collective unconscious, a kind of collective memory of humanity on a level below our personal unconscious, a level of awareness that ties us all together so that when we see great beauty in an opera or great tragedy like 9/11 in the world, something common binds us together.
We need to keep in consideration that we all are possibly in some way fighting images of teachers as mean people. We were those kids once, hating school. This would explain why storytelling intimidates so many teachers. It makes the teacher retool, rebuild, and destroy old images of what a teacher is. It makes teachers open up their hearts to children. That is hard work. Storytelling is hard work.