June 7, 2020
Stories... are genuinely symbiotic organisms that we live with, that allow human beings to advance.
- Neil Gaiman
Before the school ending, I thought I would devote this last write-up to the power of story. Over the last number of weeks in our Core classes for grade 6 to 11 students, the topic of acceptance of self and others has been explored - it is a topic that we will continue to address next year. A key theme that we are honing in on is the increase in racism and discrimination and its impact on individuals both physiologically and psychologically. One of the means through which we are trying to ensure that this topic is experienced by students in a more embodied manner (meaning that what is happening in our bodies serves as a source of insight) is through the telling of a story by a member of our teaching faculty, who has generously shared with all of us how racism has impacted him and his family growing up in Canada and through to the present day.
Storytelling is one of the most powerful and effective means of conveying a message. It is a web of meaning and emotion that links our experiences across the boundaries of location, culture, and language. As a therapist, stories are inextricably linked with how I work with children (and adults) - stories are the ways through which we discover who we are, as they establish or re-establish identity. There are the stories that are told to us; sometimes these stories help us to endure and make sense of our lives (as in the case of mythic, scientific, and the narratives of more tribal origins). We have more power for growth and change when we own our voice and our stories - along with this, when teachers (and therapists) want children and youth to develop a relationship to the material they are looking at, embodiment is a wonderful means through which we can invite a felt experience. I would argue that topics such as self-compassion, shame, resilience, and empathy don’t “land” unless they are presented in a more contemplative and embodied manner, one which allows for cultivation of compassion towards self and others with a community of practice and furthering a global community. I am excited about the direction that our school is taking as it relates to social and emotional learning, and thinking, feeling, being and doing through stories!
The human body is an amazing masterpiece. With the senses, we see, hear, taste, smell and touch the world, drawing its mystery inside us. With the mind, we probe the eternal structures of things. With the face, we present ourselves to the world and recognize each other. But it is the heart that makes us human.
The heart is where the beauty of the human spirit comes alive...
- John O’Donohue
Please reach out by email for further support - appointments for phone calls or individual sessions (for students and/or parents) can be made through firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tatjana Jansen (PhD, RCC)