Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Why storytelling?

Recently Katharine Hansen, PhD asked me two questions about storytelling for here to include on her blog. Never being one to write much – I thought I would use the answers on my blog….

1. What inspired you to "cross over" and explore the applied side of storytelling, e.g., your interview with Denning?

All oral storytelling is by definition applied… stories and storytelling with out context and culture to hang it on - is television. Television can’t be confused with the oral tradition. Storytelling requires at least two participants a listener and a speaker to have a face to face interaction. In a storytelling the listener is participating in the co-creation of the story by the active use of their imagination and their response - physically, mentally and spiritually to the story.

Oral storytelling is the nuts and bolts of the sales process. Media and sales people who ignore this skill set do so at their own peril. Whether for world peace or pure entertainment, we are going to need to make the case that storytelling is useful in all forms of human relationship. To make that case we most demonstrate empirically that storytelling is entertaining, useful and applicable to the real world.

In the modern media culture many artists consider themselves storytellers – they are making an error in describing themselves in this way. Storytelling is the application of the story to the open canvas of the human mind while changing the colors to better suit the particular conditions and needs of that day.

Oral storytelling in it’s highest from is a breath from the divine and a service to all of creation. Any art form that leaves no room for the imagination in the minds of the audience is not storytelling – but something far more insidious. We leave an oral storytelling event with the feeling that the world is bigger then we can dare to imagine.

To listen to the Steven Denning interview…

2. You blog about your struggle with dyslexia. Briefly, how has this struggle affected your development as a storyteller?

I have a mind that does not work. Poor me – I’m over it – I have learned – no I was forced to compensate by the very nature of the structure of my mind. I could not read, I could not write – all I had as a child was the words in my mouth and the space between my ears. But in the end I don’t believe that dyslexic people are better speakers then non-dyslexic people – Dyslexic people are forced to learn to great lessons early in life that are a great advantage as we grow older.

1) You can’t do it all. You’re going to need help.
2) Your mind is a great device for creativity – not a good place to store things.

This blog post is written by dyslexic person about his experience being dyslexic and has been intentionally left uncorrected except for a Microsoft word spell check.

Creative commons 3.0 non-derivative license please include the following links.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Seven Principles every Parent should know about dyslexia.

Just got off the phone with another caring parent whose son has been diagnosed with dyslexia.

1) The body and the mind are attached.

If you are serious about supporting your child’s ability to think in a line then you need to look a their diet. First remove all cane sugar and white flour from their diet. Second replace these things with whole unprocessed foods in a balance format. Third have your child rotate foods so that the body has time to recover from allergic reactions to food.. (Food rotation is easier the at first it appears – rice on Monday couscous on Tuesday, Whole four bread on Wednesday and Thursday is Corn Bread with no wheat flour….)

If you are serious about supporting the stress levels the normal dyslexic child encounters in a school environment consider adding to their life a super food or green food supplement, colon cleanse, regular visits to a chiropractor, Chinese herbalist and an acupuncturist.

There is a heck of a lot more on this topic here -

2) The mind is not a dumping ground.

If your child is exposed to pornography or other forms of digital violence the mind of your child will reflect that digital violence with physical and emotional chaos. Remove access to violent video games, television programs or DVD’s. Place internet accessible computers in common space for easy adult supervision. Give yourself permission to not talk about adult emotional subjects with your child. Say I love you to your teenager even if they look horrified.

If your child is especially stressed out by there take them to your local city park and throw a ball, Frisbee or whatever other excuse you can come up with for them to be out side away from literate world. Three weeks backpacking for teenagers is a great prescription for self confidence. A weekend in the country with no TV, radio, video games or internet is a great way for the whole family to be de stress.

There are two further posts on this subject at

3) Human populations exist on a bell curve..

In all animal and human populations individuals are not uniform. They react individually to environmental stress and individuals grow at different rates due to genetic and environmental factors. IF your child is one of the 10% of humans who learn to read at the age of ten when all of their peers learn a the age of 8 they may feel some pressure to confirm to what is considered “normal”.

By allowing for your child’s individual response to pressure you are giving them permission to learn at there own pace. To state the obvious who cares if they can’t read yet – if they want to learn to read they will to the best of their ability. When you look at the next principal you will see why this is not as dangerous or risky as it appears to many parents and educational experts.

Read more on these thoughts at

4) Humans are capable of learning on a J curve.

The spark of desire is one gift a good teacher can give a student. Everything else is just a matter of access and time. Once exposed to the desire to learn something in the modern age where the internet has made any information that you may need immediately accessible. The only thing missing is your desire to know.

When your child feels competent and emotionally safe they will learn when they are ready. In human development there are windows of opportunity that open up as the child develops – now is a good time for music, now is a good time for stories, now is a good time for character development Each of these windows open and close with a the development of the human being. I'm not sayign you can't teach a old dog new tricks, but... it sure is hard.

Schooling is based on the idea that real learning is not available at home and that uniformity of culture is important for national identity.

A more thought out reasoning -

5) Institutions serve their own agendas.

All human institutions: government, corporations and schools serve their own selfish self interest. They may have wonderful ulterior motives, but when individuals with in these institutions threaten the legitimate ideology and psychological stability of the institution - there is a predictable response that the individual most conform to fit the situation. Dyslexic students are by definition unable to conform to fit the model that every other student in the school is able to fit. Thus a dyslexic student feels an incredible amount of stress to conform to the standards of normalcy by learning to read.

If the student is unable to conform they will be viewed by the teachers, staff and other students as a burden. This is not to say there are not exceptions to this rule, but as a parent it is very important that you understand this basic ground rule. You must learn everything you can about how your school works and what options are available, who are the best teachers, who has the best reputation as special ed support person and what legal rights you have.

Read more on these thoughts at

6) Emotional Learning is more important then intellectual learning.

In the modern creative economy the strongest most hirable asset is creativity and emotional objectivity. Students who are scared from a lifetime of fighting their way through a hierarchy of learning goals are no longer nimble and quick. In modern schools creativity is sacrificed on the alter of accountability, student management and scheduled educational goals.

In the modern economy intellectual ability has become cheap and plentiful. The emotion ability to take decisions and stick by them, the moral certitude and mature surety of grown adult has become rare.

Read more on these thoughts in this post...

7) Our weakness becomes our strongest asset.

Because of my dyslexia I have a very effective storyteller. Because of my dyslexia I am an expert at information management, learning to learn and productivity strategies. I may not use them all that time – but I can teach you how to use them effectively. Dyslexia will force your child to grow in other areas to compensate for their inability to compete effectively in the realm of literacy. Best of all, your child will learn one of the most important strategies to over all life success; how to ask for help.

Your child will learn to ask for help when they can’t effectively complete a task by themselves.. This is the number one reason that one half of all successful entrepreneur are certified dyslexic. They learned young that if you can’t do it your self get some one else to do it for you.

Read more on these thoughts n this post


I have only touched the surface of what is possible with each of these principals.
Here is a list of all 7 in greater detail in later posts...