David McCullough, a famous author and historian, give a talk at our university last week, and he talked about history as "the story of people" and that good history is first and foremost a story. (If you have ever seen the famous PBS series on the Civil War, McCullough was the narrator of the series).
Then later that week I was taking a designing maps class, and we talked about how all maps "tell a story."
I also recently learned how that in teaching, the most effective way to instill understanding of a new concept is to link it to already familiar concepts via - you guessed it - stories.
The story is one of the basic tools invented by the human mind for the purpose of understanding. There have been great societies that did not use the wheel, but there have been no societies that did not tell stories. (Ursula K. LeGuin)
Storytelling reveals meaning without committing the error of defining it. (Hannah Arendt)
To me, history ought to be a source of pleasure. It isn't just part of our civic responsibility. To me, it's an enlargement of the experience of being alive, just the way literature or art or music is. (David McCullough)
History is a Rorschach test, people. What you see when you look at it tells you as much about yourself as it does about the past. (Jennifer Donnelly)
History is such a wonderful story of who we think we are. English [literature] is much more a story of who we really are. (Nikki Giovanni)
I read mostly fiction, and I firmly believe that good quality fiction can teach us - and get us to think - almost as much as non-fiction. But now I'm also thoroughly enjoying McCullough's biography of John Adams, immersed in the tiny stories that eventually led to huge consequences in my country's history.
What biography of a person or history of a particular time period would most tempt you?