Monday, 19 June 2017

Contagious Stories.

Like a good joke told by the next person, or the second person who picks up a Mexican Wave, a great story goes viral when someone else catches it and retells it.

Here's the exciting creative challenge then: to tell true stories that capture the imagination, but that are easy enough to remember for other people to retell.

I train trainers and teach teachers Accelerated Learning (well, that's part of what I do.) When enthusing teachers and trainers about teaching and training being a vocation, way more than just a job, I tell the story of my first chemistry lesson vs my first physics lesson. Those first lessons changed my preferences and my personal history.

The important thing to me is that the story is easy to relate to and easy to tell-on. So, once upon a time...

My chemistry teacher was well over 6 feet tall when we were tiny students going to the BIG school for the first time. We'd walk up the stairs, one-step-at-a-time, whereas he would stride past, one-flight-at-a-time! He was awesome, and his name will be remembered fondly forever: Mr Hill.

Mr Hill had only one eye. The other had been blinded in a chemical accident. He told us this in our first lesson. When we heard this, he had our attention!

The first lesson included a command to go to the back of the room and gather around the bench. On the bench was a galvanised bucked full of water...

When we could bear it no longer, he took some tongs and placed a piece of Sodium into the bucket.

Ker Boom!!!

Mr Hill's experiment peppered the ceiling as the Sodium reacted fiercely with the water and blew up.

"Cool!" we all thought, "We like Chemistry!"

Nobody was hurt, everybody was impressed! Chemistry was 'sold'!

By way of stark contrast, our first Physics lesson began with us all being asked to form a circle around the room and hold hands! Picture a group of young men in their first lesson. Holding hands was not 'cool' at the best of times. The nameless Physics master then powered up the Van de Graaff Generator and sent a charge through the whole group.

...He electrocuted us!

Shocking, I know! But the shock had a powerful effect. I wasn't the only student that day to decide: Chemistry = cool; Physics = uncool!

Now, do you think you could retell that story?

And what about the moral of the story?

My intended meaning is that teachers and trainers need to give their students and participants engaging experiences. The Physics Master meant well. He meant to be interactive and engaging. However, he only engaged pain and fear! We were unharmed but cautious and therefore 'Physics Adverse'! Our Chemistry Master was a warning in himself. Warning out of the way, it was time to play... and play we did.

The result? I took 'A' Level Chemistry... and we all lived happily ever after.

Go, tell good stories... stories that others can catch and tell-on.

Lex
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment on our blog on the Moodscope web site:

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/contagious-stories