Stories Teach Soft Skills

The universe is made of stories, not atoms. —Muriel Rukeyser

Last Friday, the faculty and staff at HCC’s FTC enjoyed a real treat. Beth Mann, General Manager of WKDZ/WHVO, presented an entertaining and useful session about the importance of soft skills in her own life and in her role as a media executive who regularly hires people for a wide variety of positions. Mann left us with a list of thirty-five essential qualities and skills exhibited by successful people in her field, and we will reference that list in upcoming posts. And she left us with stories…stories about her own experiences as a student and professional, stories about the people who have influenced her, and stories about both joyous and exasperating encounters with employees and colleagues.

Ms. Mann’s official title testifies to her administrative abilities, but she’d make one helluva teacher. In fact, she WAS our teacher last Friday. To cite two of the items on her own list, she had clearly “planned the work and worked the plan” and had “done her homework.” She empowered us to expect the best from ourselves and our students. She shared our frustrations with cell phone addiction, inappropriate dress, and some students’ general lack of respect for the job and for one another.storytelling

She might have simply handed us a list or a set of PowerPoint frames and then reviewed them for an hour. Instead, she presented concepts as stories that we will remember for a long time. Another teacher, long ago and far away, regularly used the power of stories to help His listeners remember important truths. He would have agreed, I think, that Beth Mann is “a city on a hill.”

Tomorrow we’ll talk about some new science that reveals how stories help children learn.

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