This is a guest post from Ben Cook, co-founder and creator of the Clever Tykes books, helping children ages 6-9 think more positively and be more enterprising.
Stories are so important to us. Our lives are made up of an intertwined series of stories involving different characters, plots and twists. Stories take many forms; fact, fiction, long and short, simple and complex. We use stories to educate, inform, inspire and entertain. They’re so powerful because they take us on a journey that changes the way we think about something.
Sometimes, I think we underestimate how important stories are. See if you agree.
We humans are complex and intelligent (at least we like to think we are!) but much of our learning processes remain instinctive. We learn from our experiences and the experiences of others. How quickly do even the most primitive of creatures learn not to touch something if it gives them an electric shock, for example? But more than that, if they see another creature suffer the same experience, they too will avoid the booby-trap. And it’s this that has meant stories have been used to pass on knowledge and wisdom of thousands of years.
Kids make a lot of mistakes – and that’s great.
It means they’re trying something new, not fearing failure and they’re going to learn valuable lessons. But we don’t want them to have to make every single mistake anyone has ever made – we help them to avoid some of them by passing on our own experiences and those of others. And that’s where stories come in. Rather than telling children what is right and wrong and why they should or shouldn’t do something, stories are a powerful way to convey these messages.
A myriad of life lessons are to be learned from fairy tales, fables and children’s stories with strong morals. So it shouldn’t be underestimated how important the stories to which we subject today’s children are. Who are their role models? Who are the heroes they aspire to be? Are they the characters you want them to learn from? Unfortunately we live in a society where sex sells and controversy commands, which means we see a lot of questionable role models in the media.
If we’ve been using storytelling for millennia to inspire and educate children, are we paying enough attention to what they’re seeing today? The world is so fast-paced, the skills and attitudes required to succeed in modern society are much changed from even only 20 years ago. Do today’s stories really match up to the values and traits we need to see in children?
“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.”
– Alvin Toffler
That’s why we decided to develop the Clever Tykes books – to create role models and stories that are applicable both to today’s challenges and opportunities. Technology plays a role in the stories, particularly Code-it Cody (as you might imagine!) whilst focusing on those skills and traits that are universally important and always will be – creativity, resourcefulness and resilience.
Being mindful of the experiences children learn from in today’s fast-paced media and marketing-driven society is probably more vital than ever before.
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