This essay proposes that storytelling be reintroduced into schools and universities, at all levels and in all languages, though in a new and quite particular way. Instead of traditional storytelling that reaffirms the values of a mindlessly competitive and materialist world, the author suggests an alternative form of storytelling that fosters peace and humane values. No matter how original and authentic our own life stories may seem to us, we rarely are able to break away from a master narrative that sets the frame in which our personal stories are shaped and interpreted. Our economic system and the social order that it secretes are structured like a war: our master narrative figures human life as an affair of winners and losers. Children need encouragement to question and bypass the master narrative by rethinking and rewriting traditional tales, fables, myths, and even epics and tragedies. Research conducted by the author at schools in the United States and United Kingdom shows that, through free play, alternatives to rivalry, bullying, brutality, cruelty, ruthlessness, vehemence, and enmity occur naturally to children of all ages.
Jack Zipes; ONCE UPON A TIME: Changing the World through Storytelling. Common Knowledge 1 May 2016; 22 (2): 277–283. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/0961754X-3464961
Download citation file: