Sunday, March 29, 2009

Call of a different sort of reform in America’s schools.

I submitted this as a commentary for NPR all things considered – well not this piece – well it was nice of them to consider it. Eric

We need to pull back on testing our students and spend more time on the arts, with a focus on real world communication skills, creative problem solving and people management that businesses will need to have if America is to be successful it the 21st century economy.

The ability to spell or add, are no longer relevant to the success of anyone in a world that includes word processors and spreadsheet programs on every computer. The ability to recall a certain historic date or scientific fact will not decide the fate of any American with Wikipedia one click away. Even the valued alphabetizing skills developed in grade schools across the country, once used in leafing through the Yellow Pages by every American is now obsolete due to google.

There are many skills that are still relevant – skills that become even more important in an economy where any job is just one click away from being outsourced to Indonesia. The capacity of students to: manage people, be creative in the face of conflict or problems, a willingness to set goals and follow them, to speak with truth and passion to an audience of any size and a stubborn willingness to keep trying will lead directly to success in the next generation.

There has long been a growing disconnect between the creative skills used in the arts and business to succeed and the skills that America’s schools teach. It’s time for schools to be based on a 21st century model where creativity, originality, passion and perseverance are the coin of the realm.

One of the key skills that could be developed further in American schools is the use of storytelling. Not the sort of storytelling of sweet little old lady at a library reading a book, a worthy vocation. But the American use of storytelling in every aspect of our lives from successful interviews, to sales, in media and in just normal everyday talk. I have had the pleasure of visiting hundreds of schools around the country as a professional storyteller and I am sorry to report that only one school had any experience with public speaking prior to my arrival. The ability to speak without notes, to as Mark Twain once said – “extemporize” or to just feel comfortable answering question in public, are essential skills to any student’s long term success in life.

It’s time for us to rethink what it means to be in school. When creativity and perseverance is our guiding light the world opens it’s doors to meet us.

Eric Wolf has a M.S. in Education and is the Host and producer of the Art of Storytelling with Children Podcast with over 80+ hour long interviews on how to use storytelling in just about every aspect of school and life.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

6) Emotional Learning is more important then intellectual learning.

This post is part of series on 7 Principles every parent should know about dyslexic children.

In the modern creative economy the strongest most hirable asset is creativity and emotional objectivity. When we are able to create content based on demand, when we are able to serve the needs of the market place through our inherit creative gifts - we will never be short for happiness, success, work or money.

When we are placed in subservient rule to our natural destiny by the forceful removal of our own confidence and moral compass. When we are slighted for our unique creativity and natural abilities we give up our own forward motion and attach ourselves to the success of another. We become drones or factory workers, we wait for the boss to tell us what to do.

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. Students who graduate from most learning institutions today are able to follow instructions, but are lacking in creativity and problem solving. Many modern high-school graduates have not matriculated into an identity of adulthood they have failed to take on the mantle of responsibility that is missing in so much of modern life.

In the late 19th century schools where an important part of our nations successful transition into the industrial revolution. But the current creative economy rewards people based on their unique ability to fulfill the needs of the marketplace. In the modern economy, intellectual ability has become cheap and plentiful and creative ability has become sought after and rare. If I want facts I can go to my computer and find them. If I want good writing or decent editing I have to pay through the nose.

But my spell checker is free – my computer comes with a keyboard. The role of stenographer has been replaced at every modern office. Typists are no longer needed, but good managers are hard to find.

That leads us to the most important reality of hiring new workers in today’s cooperate and business world. Maturity is rare - there are many grownups, but few adults in today’s economy. Creativity though associated with children and teenagers when expressed by a mature adult becomes passion and expertise.

The emotion ability to make decisions, work with people, compromise and push through, the moral certitude and mature surety of grown adult has become rare in post industrial society. In combination with the ability to be creative it is the only thing that can lead to a wild and successful like. So far I have seen few schools that can teach that.

This post is from the Dyslexic Storytellers Blog feel free to check out Eric Wolf's writings on being dyslexic.

Monday, March 9, 2009

The Top 10 Storytelling Blogs of 2009

I rarely write articles for this bog – but I started thinking about it and I thought as way of thanks I would write a short article giving thanks to all those bloggers who have been so supportive of my podcast over the years. Keeping in mind that many of these people have become my friends, I apologize to any worthy storytelling blogger who feels excluded form this list.


If you reading this post – I’m sure you are reading this post on my blog so I’m sure I don’t need to convince you of the value of this blog on the web. I have tried to bring to this podcast every storyteller of every merit in the international storytelling movement. I only have a few hundred to go – so please spread the word as to the value of this resource.


Tim Ernetta has a fabulous blog called “Breaking the Eggs: Performance storytelling in the 21st Century”. Tim planned years in advance for this blog by reserving the word storytelling in the blogspot universe – thank goodness he had the foresight. Instead of another dry examination of movies, theater or television, we get this entertaining look at American storytelling. He has one of the most refreshing views of what it means to be a modern storyteller. His examination of the boundaries of storytelling and his willingness to leave no stone unturned in his examination of what it means to be a storyteller, professional or other wise, makes this blog required reading for anyone who is serious about storytelling in the United States.


A Ning is a new word like Google, Ebay or Facebook – Nings are dedicated online communities with a common philosophical focus. The professional storytelling Ning founded by Dianne de Las Casus includes not just one blog, but hundreds of storytellers blogs all combined into one overwhelming RSS feed. Give yourself the gift of examining what it means to take your storytelling to the next professional level.


K. Sean Buvala has a courageous picture blog of his own professional storytelling career recorded over the period of a year with hundreds of pictures. Honest and raw, it is a must read for any inspiring performer who wishes or dreams of making a living from their art form. He has several other online storytelling projects and each is worthy of its own place of honor – so be sure to explore the links on this blog page to find out more about what he has created online.


Limor’s Storytelling Agora is a valuable addition to the international view of storytelling in the 21sot century. Sometimes Limor just speaks about her basic experience as a storyteller – like many other storytelling blogs. Then suddenly she will launch into an examination of storytelling itself, why we do it, how we do it or just what it means to be a storyteller in the 21st century.


This is Priscilla Howe’s professional storytelling blog. She is one of the busiest storytellers that I know and you can pick up a lot of tricks of the trade if you pay attention to the space between the words in her blog. She is a professional and her blog demonstrates it with over a thousand professional gigs on her resume. This is a blog to follow for other professional storytellers.


Rachel Hedman’s blog, Storytelling Adventures, has been a long term project for her. She posts on a regular basis on the storytelling art form, issues relating to performing in various venues and the development of various gigs. Rachel currently has been developing a new project online, so be sure to check that out through the links. I am sure it will be just as in depth, interesting, detailed and good for the soul as this blog.


Dianne de Las Casus has a professional blogging presence – she writes books and a regular lengthy newsletter, maintains a healthy performance schedule and answers all emails. I don’t know how she does it all. Actually I do – because she talks about it at length on her blog.


My personal blog – where I reach out to parents of dyslexic children - not really a storytelling blog – but a great example of how to create content for a specific audience to whom you wish to tell stories. If you are a regular follower of this blog, you will understand my passionate interest in the way Americans view school and learning disabilities.


Although this does not appear to be a permanent addition to the storytelling blogsphere, it looks to be of such originality and vision that I had to slip it into this lineup of storytelling blogs. These three tellers are reaching for the sky while mere mortals seek the old places of last resort.

This is a repeat of a post - blogged at

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Well - Some one is reading on...

I still get fairly heavy traffic on this blog despite the lack of activity - but recently I was recognized for being among the top 50 blogs on dyslexia - which I find amusing being that I am not satisfied that dyslexia exists....

If you are seeking a more traditional approach to dyslexia I would search below....
Learning Disabilities Blogs
From Guide to Online Schools

All the best

Eric Wolf