For me, planning a new class is a mixture of discovery, excitement, and dread. This semester is the first time that I am teaching Storytelling. I struggled to find a way to frame the course and develop units that connect to a larger theme. Ultimately, I was influenced by Rebecca Solnit’s idea that,

Language and stories can change the possibilities.

I came across this quote in a haphazard way, from On Being as they live tweeted an interview for an upcoming show. Once I let it marinate a bit I was able to come up with the Essential Questions for the course:

In what different ways can stories matter? 
How do people use stories to influence others? 
How can we use stories to change reality?

This framework helped me plan the first unit of the course, which is focused on different theories of storytelling. We wrote about a story that is repeated in our families, watched a video about the Hero’s Journey, read about Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell, learned about archetypes, and read about different people’s views on Myths and Sacred Texts. Now students are re-mixing their family story, turning it into a myth which they will then present in video format.

We’re off and running! Soon we will begin working with our collaborators, including the Painted Bride Art Center and their re-place-ing project, Philly Block Project, and HIAS.

Goodbye dread.

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