Recently I had the opportunity to go and see Tate Taylor’s, The Help, a movie which depicts an aspiring author’s decision to write a book about the lives of African American maids in 1960’s Mississippi. The movie was so inspiring and moving on a variety of levels and I found myself on a rollercoaster ride going from laughing out loud, to clenching my heart and dabbing with a Kleenex to dry my eyes. As the aspiring author gained the trust of the maids and as events in their own lives occurred, they started to share their stories which were both heart-warming and heart-wrenching. It was a true story about having the courage to share your story and the powerful impact such sharing can have ~ not only for the reader, but for the author and now, in the movie for the viewer. Very few will have left the theatre that night unmoved and profoundly touched by the story. Can someone say Academy Award?
Although our own stories may not be as noteworthy as surviving the Civil Rights movement or changing history by putting pen to paper, they are important to us and as we found out so vividly in The Help, it’s important that we share those stories in some format. And in today’s world we have so many more vehicles for that expression.
When I reflect on the stories that some of our students have to share I am reminded that their stories also run the continuum of going from heart-warming to heart-wrenching. Some of our students are able to articulate about going to Disneyland or about getting a new puppy. Others can share heart-wrenching stories about getting evicted or the death of a beloved family pet. We need to let our students know that there is great value in all of their stories and an even greater value in having the courage to share those stories.
So my questions for today are:
As teachers how do we create a culture where students freely share their life stories?
How do we share our own stories in a way that will inspire our students to share their stories?
How do we get our students to “dig deeper” when we ask them to write autobiographical information?
Come write with me…..