Saturday, May 13, 2017

Minds Made for Stories

One of the essential books for English teachers is was Thomas Newkirk's The Art of Slow Reading. Another excellent read is his 2014 book Minds Made for Stories: how we really read informational and persuasive texts. Newkirk's central idea is that all good writing has narrative at its core, and that narrative is not a discrete 'genre' (despite the crude divisions of our English Leaving Certificate course).

He starts 'Our theories are really disguised autobiographies, often rooted in childhood. That is the case with this book', and there are plenty of good stories and interesting references to back up his own theory. His writing, also, is blessedly free of educational jargon.

'We need stories, not simply for aesthetic pleasure, but to reassure ourselves that we live in a comprehensible world'.

'Narrative is not a type of writing. Or not merely a type of writing. It has deeper roots than that. It is a property of mind, an innate and indispensable form of understanding, as instinctive as our fear of falling, as our need for human company.'

There's lots more to explore. English teachers should do so.

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