Tag Archives: Science

The Power of Storytelling

Science is an art.
Science is an art.

Someday, maybe, I’ll work on my Doctorate, and I am fairly certain what my focus will be the power of storytelling. It’s been a subject I’ve researched for years. We are all narrative learners. I struggle with putting things in tidy boxes of informational versus narrative. I could make a case that all learning is information, or all learning is narrative. But it’s both.

And what makes us human, to me, is our need for a story. Perhaps elephants, dolphins, and whales tell their babies stories, and I know experience is certainly passed down. Unless of course, you’re an octopus–incredibly intelligent, but have no means of passing it along to the next generation. “Their knowledge dies with them.”

In Newkirk’s book, Minds Made for Stories, he explores the question of how knowledge is developed. It’s a fantastic read and supports my own instincts about the power of storytelling when it comes to any content area.

But why is this–in the vernacular of our times–even a thing? I detect a bias here, and  ‘us versus them’ in the content area arenas.

Recently Wells Fargo caused outrage because of this ad campaign:

wells fargo

Because of public outcry, artists and actors protested and the ad campaign has been pulled.  (Why can’t we do that to a certain presidential nominee?) Clearly, Wells Fargo jumped on the STEM bandwagon and forgot to add the rogue branch of the acronym, “A” — for Arts. This push toward only mathematics and science is dangerous, but I don’t think it’s a cause for outrage necessarily. But it is a place for a conversation: what do we value? What do we support — financially, socially, and emotionally? And what do we want to be when we grow up? Is there a bias of brains? Why do we constantly misdirect the topic, continually focused on the myth of left versus right brains? These fallacious and hollow debates about skills versus content, lecture versus ‘guide on the side.’ Enough. This is not the conversation to focus on, and it’s a waste of everyone’s time.

From Knowing Stuff is Inseparable from Literacy: 

This simple fact — that knowing stuff is inseparable from being able to read stuff — is why great teaching will always be concerned with both skills and content. Sadly, since the majority of educators who implemented the Common Core State Standards did not read and reflect upon their introductory matter, it became popular (and fallacious) to declare that content isn’t what counts — skills are. In the CCSS era, there are no distinctions between science and social studies and English teachers anymore; we’re all reading teachers, right? And thus was won a great victory by champions of literacy everywhere!

Skills are important. But they are only one side of the story.

Here is the other side:

All we do as humans is based on a story we must tell. An adventure we seek, a problem to solve, our heart is breaking and we want to fix it. Someone is lost and we want to find them. Something or someone attacks our humanity and we want to slay the monster.

As you’re planning units, I urge you to look at your content through the lens of storytelling: what motivated the person to learn? What motivates you? What are your burning questions? 

Remember this is not a zero-sum game. We can be ballerina scientists and athletic botanists. If you want to talk more about ideas you have or thinking about doing something amazing with stories and science/math, I’m here.

14 Books That Connect Students With Valuable Scientists’ Struggles

 

https://oldbrainteacher.com/

 

A Model for Teacher Development: A Precursor for Change — Jackie Gernstein

 

Postcards from Bikini Bottom.

Squid beak

http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/series/dangerous-encounters/4177/Overview

4177_dangerous-encounters-cannibal-squid-01_04700300

How cool is this?!

A wonderful teacher/colleague/mentor’s husband is a scientist for the Seattle Aquarium. He worked with Brady Barr and is on the upcoming episode which will air Friday, July 30: Dangerous Encounters with Brady Barr: CANNIBAL SQUID! If that doesn’t get your attention, perhaps this will:

squidward_the_dancer

Apple pie universal truths.

I *heart* Bill Nye the Science Guy.

It’s true. I have a little secret science crush on Bill Nye the Science Guy. (Yes, my husband knows. He has a small crush on Sandra Bullock, and we’re okay with that, too. His chances of actually meeting Sandra Bullock are an astronomical, exponential number.)

Bill Nye the Science Guy
Bill Nye the Science Guy

From The Writer’s Almanac, November 27, 2009: It’s the birthday of Bill Nye the Science Guy, (books by this author) born William Sanford Nye in Washington, D.C. (1955). He majored in mechanical engineering at Cornell, where one of his professors was Carl Sagan, and was working as an actor at a Seattle sketch comedy show when the host mispronounced the word “gigawatt”; he’d incorrectly said “jigowatt.” William Sanford Nye politely corrected the host of the television comedy show, and the host said, “Who are you?” and Nye said, off the top of his head, “Bill Nye the Science Guy?”

Between 1993 and 1997, he wrote, produced, and hosted 100 episodes of Bill Nye the Science Guy, his educational program on PBS geared toward grade-schoolers. The 26-minute program, each featuring a distinct topic, was shown in classrooms across the country, and it still is broadcast on some public television stations. He’s written a number of children’s books, including Bill Nye the Science Guy’s Big Blast of Science (1993).

 

If one of his professors was Carl Sagan, well, maybe that explains some things, because I also think Carl Sagan, a physicist, said some incredible things, too:

Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it we go nowhere.

For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love.

In order to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe.

So, as I ask some big questions, like my place in the universe, why am I here, am I only limited to my tiny mortal coil, restrictive and finite, I will also know I am in good company with others more intelligent than I–Professor Sagan, Bill Nye, and of course, my husband, whom I *heart* the most.

Check out Bill Nye the Science Guy’s website: http://www.billnye.com/flash.html