Episode 9: Tales that Teach (?)

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Many of the stories i tell are, amongst other things, about learning/teaching. First, I am attracted to stories from which i feel i have something to learn. And if, in fact, this proves true, then it follows that many other people may also have something that they could learn from these tales. The nice thing about storytelling is that people don't have to feel like they're learning to enjoy a tale. And yet, stories carry such wonderful and complex resonances that i believe listeners learn despite their awareness of having done so. The three stories in this episode are very dear to me. (You can read text versions here: What Keeps Us Apart; Cup; Dance). And, as i write a book about teaching/learning (i'm calling it "Trickster Pedagogy" provisionally) i ponder these tales and more. I had wanted to include in the podcast these words from Doris Lessing but have opted simply to include them in his note. In the introduction to one of her mos famous novels, The Golden Notebook, Lessing reflects on education. Here's what she writes:

It may be that there is no other way of educating people. Possibly, but I don't believe it. In the meantime it would be a help at least to describe things properly, to call things by their right names. Ideally, what should be said to every child, repeatedly, throughout his or her school life is something like this:

"You are in the process of being indoctrinated. We have not yet evolved a system of education that is not a system of indoctrination. We are sorry, but it is the best we can do. What you are being taught here is an amalgam of current prejudice and the choices of this particular culture. The slightest look at history will show how impermanent these must be. You are being taught by people who have been able to accommodate themselves to a regime of thought laid down by their predecessors. It is a self-perpetuating system. Those of you who are more robust and individual than others, will be encouraged to leave and find ways of educating yourself - educating your own judgement. Those that stay must remember, always and all the time, that they are being moulded and patterned to fit into the narrow and particular needs of this particular society."

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