Telling the New Story

Telling the New StoryI just read that Wesley, Miguel, Ewan, and Darren are going to be doing another Skypecast. I would so much like to be part of one of these conversations. How does one get an invite? Alas, I’ll be driving across Illinois at that time, so will have to listen later on, when Wesley has posted it as a podcast.

One of the issues they’ll be talking about is affecting change in education, and their agenda indicates some talk about “The New Story”. I’ve spoken quite a bit lately about “The New Story” and will be again, next week, at the NCAECT conference in Charlotte.

The best stories are told by people who are respected (believe it or not, teachers are respected as people who “know” things). They’re also told by children, and by grandparents. They can be long, but the best stories are short. They begin with, “Did you know that…” and there is an implied question. It’s the question that’s the hard part.

Did you know that if Walmart was a country, it would be China’s eighth largest trading partner?

Did you know that at any moment 2% of the world gross domestic product is in the back of a UPS truck?

The typical American question is, “Why are we outsourcing all of this manufacturing?” We need to teach ourselves to ask, “What do I need to know in order to facilitate this sort of supply chain?”

Dr. Jennifer James talks about story telling as an effective leadership skills. She says that a compelling new story must have three elements. It must:

  • Fit the marketplace and our vision of the future
  • Resonate to deeply held values
  • Be something that we can model, something that we can point to.

Hands down, the marketplace is changing. It’s getting bigger and there are a lot of new players. What we value, are our children. And we have to have some vision of that classroom that is not centered around the technology, but around what our children are doing, what the community is seeing, and how that vision fits the future vision.

To me, personally, the value of conferences has more to do with the stories I come away with than the new technologies. There are a number of books right now that are telling compelling new stories. Aside from Freidman’s, The World is Flat, look into:

  • The Flight of the Creative Class, by Richard Florida
  • Got Game, by John Beck
  • Growing Up Digital, by Don Tapscott (it’s a bit dated by with valuable)
  • As the Future Catches You, by Juan Enriquez
  • Get WIRED Magazine for your professional library.

[Please suggest other sources of new stories!]

Be willing to be bold. Small changes don’t excite people. Big changes do. The other day, I suggested, in my CUE webcast, that each teacher should have three or four hours of planning time every day. First off, think for a minute, about a classroom based on three hours of planning every day. Isn’t that the classroom that our children and our future deserves.

If we are not willing to at least consider changes that are that radical, then we simply aren’t going to make it.

2¢ Worth!

34 thoughts on “Telling the New Story”

  1. other sources of new stories
    I’ve got a couple to suggest. Cradle to Cradle by William McDonough & Michael Braungart. ISBN 0865475873. Focuses on environmental issues, but the perspective is quite different. Full of the big change thinking you advocate here. Also Everything Bad is Good for You by Steven Johnson. ISBN 1573223077. Another pop culture treatise that makes a good companion or alternative to Got Game.


  2. I have two other books to add:

    Everything bad is good for you: How today’s popular culture is actually making us smarter – Steven Johnson
    Looks at how TV and games have evolved to deliver more complex stories and how our brains are evolving to meet the challenge. Provides a nice brain research followup to some of the social ideas presented in Got game?

    I found it on the internet: Coming of age online – Francis Jacobson Harris
    I haven’t gotten to this yet, but it is sitting on my desk just begging to be read! I just know it is going to be an exceptional look at some of the different views of “online.”

    The other source for stories I would add relates to the picture you included. I saw that and thought this was going to be a post about how you had seen the light and started gaming! After a closer look, I realized it is a storyteller around a fire, not a pyromancer about to fry some minotaurs and other assorted creatures. Still, what stories are being created in Runescape? What about the story of humanity in UNICEF’s Food-Force (

  3. Add Dan Pink’s book “A Whole New Mind” to your list David. It is great and right along these same lines.

    I think you are right on about the need to tell a new story. We all have got to get around the ideas of getting students as well as teachers involved in digital storytelling, that involve PERSONAL stories. I think we have to stop putting our faith in technocratic solutions like curriculum standards and centrally administered tests. Loving, passionate teachers are the ones who make a positive difference. We’ve got to stop kidding ourselves that we can legislate what our kids need.

    And you are also correct: time is an essential issue. There is no way teachers are broadly going to stop teaching a curriculum that is a mile wide and an inch deep as long as the state and national curriculum standards remain as they are. We have got to encourage project based learning where the emphasis is on the DEPTH of learning, rather than the breadth. Suggesting that today is about like proposing everyone take a required class in Aramaic and pass a test on it before they graduate.

    We all have to step up to this challenge. This isn’t something we can just sit back and wait for a legislator to solve with a new bill and law. Because legislation is not the answer. It can be part of the solution, but ultimately these changes have to do with trusting teachers and empowering them to do their jobs well. Our teachers need both our trust and autonomy to work as creative artists.

    Sorry you’ll miss the skypecast tomorrow. We’ll have to try and reschedule another one at a more convenient time for you! 🙂

  4. What is the problem with asking the question “Why are we outsourcing all of this manufacturing?” One person’s economic efficiency is another person’s loss of job, a community’s loss of wealth, a school system’s loss of resources. This globalism has a darkside and it could rear its head in the form of resource wars, fundamentalism and environmental collapse that will cripple these global supply chains. Your question essentiallly asks how do we jump on this train without ever asking where it is going. We need more value questions indeed.

  5. Two more book recommendations:

    High Noon 20 Global Problems, 20 Years to Solve Them
    by Jean-Francois Rischard


    The Weather Makers : How Man Is Changing the Climate and What It Means for Life on Earth

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