Thursday, March 16, 2006

Telling the Story

From Robert Scoble:

It’s the small things on blogs that matter to me. It’s the small things that make us human. . . .

Last night I heard Jimmy Wales speak. He told his secret. Why he started Wikipedia. He made me cry. You see, last night we were speaking as part of the 20×2 event. 20 speakers. Two minutes each on stage. To answer this question: what is the secret?

His secret? He was gonna be cute, he told us. Say something funny about how Wikipedia knew his secret. But, he thought he’d ask his five-year-old daughter. “I don’t have any secrets, dad,” she answered back. But, alas, she turned out to be Jimmy’s secret in the end. See, when she was born she was in a world of hurt. I forget the disease’s name. You know when you have something you can’t remember that you’re in a world of hurt. She was given 1 in 3 odds of living. Jimmy did some research on the Internet and learned everything he could about that strange disease and found one of the world’s leading doctors. He tried an experimental treatment. Only 50% had lived through that so far. The doctor put some new, experimental, protein-based fluid into her lungs and flushed them out. Turned out she lived, and the story ends happily. Jimmy told us that he wanted everyone in the world to be able to find information on things like his daughter’s diseases and find the world’s experts on them. The day he got his daughter home from the hospital is the day Jimmy started Wikipedia.

Do you have a story like that? Wow. It’s the small things in life that matter.
I've been reading a lot lately about "stories" - about how stories are really how we communicate with each other. And that we really need to "tell the story" about what we are trying to do if we want to convince others of our vision. Don't just give them the facts about our project - the details that I spend so much time thinking about. I think the details are critical to our success, but they're not what people want to hear about. They want to hear the stories - that's what moves them. The story above forever changes the way I think about Wikipedia. It doesn't necessarily change what Wikipedia is functionally, or the real issues surrounding the content, but it changes the way I think about it.

That's why when we met with the Superintendent and his cabinet I took Anne, Brian, Brad, Barbara and Ray along - because I'm pretty good talking about the details, but they can tell the story of the classroom. That's why our 20 minutes presentation ended up being an hour and a half and probably only ended because they (the cabinet) had another meeting. That's why I need each one of you in this first cohort (and eventually those in the second cohort) to continually tell the story. The story won't be the same from each one of us - each of us has our own version of the story. But I think if we collectively keep telling the story, we will bring about change.

We need to overcome our hesitation to talk about this. I think sometimes we are worried that if we talk about this too much it will turn people off, or they might get angry that we are "telling" them they should change or that they are a bad teacher. I know I feel that myself. But we need to get past that and frame it as telling the story of how we think education can and should be, how we think AHS can get better and better, how our students can be more successful, better prepared, and - dare I say it - happier. We need to share our passion for this. We need to tell our stories.

1 comment:

  1. It IS all about the story. Each of us has a different story. And, each time we tell our story (about one class, about one day, about the entire journey)the people we tell gain more insight into what we are really doing. Think about some of the conversations you have had with teachers not involved in our group...did you tell them details about what we did for homework or did you just bubble over with excitement about something you tried with the kids? I am betting it is the latter! So like Karl said, keep telling the story :-)