The history of storytelling has been told many times, dating back to the earliest cave paintings, oral traditions and to the first surviving recorded tale of Gilamesh, relating to the Sumerian King, but have we considered why the art of storytelling is so important to us and its role?
Storytelling is an integral part of all cultures and its role will always play a vital function. As a social race we need stories. The art of storytelling has evolved, transcending all forms of art. It’s our way of communicating and not just about our past or the role it plays in our personal lives, but it is alive and well in all professional aspects. In business, education and all industry sectors, we can see the art of storytelling being portrayed each day. To communicate a message, whether in the class room, a boardroom presentation or a religious sermon, we learn and understand the concepts when they are placed in a story. Not only does it enrich the experience but it adds a personal touch.
It is stated that our brains on hearing a story, behaves in a number of different ways:
Activates part of the brain to turn the story into the listener’s own experiences and ideas
Similar brain activity is mirrored with other listeners and to the speaker
A well told story can activate the motor cortex, sensory cortex and frontal cortex
Perhaps the importance of stories automatically stems and becomes part of life since our births. The role of storytelling plays an important role in educating children regarding life. The indigenous cultures of North and South America use storytelling to teach children about their culture, identity, their bodies and the world around them. This concept intertwines, becoming part of their lives, passing it on to the next generation in a continuous cycle, rooting it in cultures.
But stories are not only about communicating, entertaining and informing, but the role of storytelling is also to preserve past cultures and traditions. Prior to the onset of the written form, events of the past and of great achievements were recorded orally or through art and dance to recall the times of old, preserving them in the history of the people. This in turn led to the great sagas, myths and legends. The storyteller was held in high regard and usually the responsibility fell to a senior member of the community. It is the social glue to hold the community together, retelling the stories and learning the lessons.
What are your thoughts on the importance of storytelling within our society? There are stories everywhere - all around us. We tell stories each day. What is the driving force behind the need to tell stories? Is it what binds humanity? As a race we need to communicate and what better way than to experience a story.
If we were to stop telling stories, what would happen to humanity? Something to ponder on!
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