Story Telling - A Link With Who We Are

From The Inside Story, Story Time Felts's consultant Newsletter

Before electricity, families gathered around the coal oil lamp or the fire to tell or read stories,. Farm work was mainly assigned to daylight hours. Long winter nights were times for passing on the cherished values and beliefs from one generation to the next through stories.

When electricity extended our day, the family story time went away. It was eventually replaced by the radio and television, but neither radio nor television can replace the family solidarity that was shaped during the story hours.

Even though we may be together around the television set, it's not the same. When a story is told by someone from Hollywood or broadcast from New York, there is no longer a weaving together of family ties.

In his book, The Healing Art of Storytelling, Richard Stone laments this loss "In today's world, it's not unusual for an entire family to subsist under one roof hardly knowing each other. A television in every bedroom now gives us the ultimate freedom to privately design and construct our own solitary world of entertainment. Community, if it exists, is relegated to sterile settings such as virtual reality and talk rooms on the Internet. Real intimacy has become scarce, surfacing in today's culture as sexualized fantasies and twisted notions of love and companionship."

As the television and computer have become the centers of our entertainment lives, we have become increasingly isolated. In a flood of noises and images, we have become alienated from family and our personal history. We begin to forget who we are.

A fascinating book, In the Absence of the Sacred: The failure of Technology and the Survival of the Indian Nations, Jerry Mander tells how Indians have replaced their cultural patterns with game shows and sitcoms. Mander notes that behavior problems in schools have, at the same time, risen to epidemic proportions. He claims that the problems came because there was no longer a means of transmitting the values and ethics of the culture.

Richard Stone sees this loss most apparent in the shrinking ability of adults and children to use their imaginations. "Teachers tell me that they have witnessed a steady decrease in elementary students' verbal and artistic ability during the last fifteen years. When asked to write an original story, kids today are much more likely to regurgitate the plot from the latest movie thriller with a cast of pop characters from Saturday morning cartoons. Gone is the ability to make up a story out of nothing.: He laments the loss of "the most important ingredient of human sanity: imagination."

Without our imagination to help us find solutions to life's problems, we are caught in a trap of depression unparalleled in any prior age. Gone are the heroes and heroines who wrestled with dragons and with themselves and came out victors.

As Story Time Felts consultants, we are doing much more than peddling toys. We're helping to restore an important part of our lost culture. As children play with out felt pieces either with each other or with the adults in their lives, they are building the resilience necessary to face the future.

They are learning more than verbal skills and sequencing. They are learning to develop their imaginations so they can meet the future with imagination, intelligence, and confidence.

Is it any wonder then, that adults are drawn to our products? Often they will say "these remind me of something from my childhood." Isn't it, in fact, something deep within them they long to restore for future generations?

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