Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Three Little Pigs

I teach legal writing classes at a law school--I have for a couple of years now.  When we're talking about writing a statement of facts for a legal brief, I have students do a little exercise with the story of the Three Little Pigs.  Using the same facts as they know from the original story, I have them try to tell the story from the wolf's point of view.  The point is to learn to frame facts and emphasize and de-emphasize things in order to affect the way the audience views your client.

What I notice about this exercise is that every single time, my students go from this glazed look of mild disinterest or sleepiness to complete engagement.  Even though it's a silly exercise and the students can barely understand why we're talking about a fairy tale in law school, the minute we start creatively engaging with a narrative, they light up.

Story is the language of our culture. 

Many missions resources talk about how important it is when you're entering a new culture to learn the heart-language of the culture.  That even if you're in a country where the trade language is French, for example, to really communicate to the hearts of people, you've got to learn their dialect--you've got to learn to communicate in the language that is dearest to their heart and soul.

I think that the language of story is that for our time and our culture.  Maybe it is for all times and cultures, I don't know.  But learning to engage with people through story opens up something inside of people that allows your words to penetrate to a person's very soul.

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