Storytelling, Creativity, Logical Reasoning
The purpose of life is to obey the hidden command which ensures harmony among all and creates an ever better world. We are not created only to enjoy the world, we are created in order to evolve the cosmos. — Maria Montessori
When I was 3 years old, my father asked my brother to buy noodles from our neighborhood noodle shop. My brother was watching TV at the time. He didn’t comply. When no one was looking, I snuck out of the apartment, carrying the bag and the money that my father left for my brother. I ventured out to buy the noodles.
Unfortunately, the mental map in my head of the path to take to the store was filled with my imagination. It was jumbled up in my brain. I made a wrong turn as soon as I left the apartment building. I ended up going in a completely different direction than the direction of the noodle shop. After sometime, I was picked up by a traffic officer and taken to the police station. Eventually, I was reunited with my parents.
All throughout my life, my father told everyone this story over and over again. To him, this story showed a young child’s natural born determination, creativity and logical thinking abilities.
We are all born with these abilities.
During the first five years of our life, 90% of our brain is developed. The quality of our brain’s connections, the amount of connections and our brain elasticity will determine our ability to excercise our brain power later on in life.
However, what we do with all of that power will determine whether the power will stay or it will go.
The Myth of STEM
People assume that careers in Science, Math, Engineering and Technology require only logical reasoning skills and analytical skills. They often downplay the need for creativity in these careers. They also downplay the effectiveness of a multidisciplinary approach to learning STEM skills.
People are scared of thinking that their right brain actually have a lot to do with their left brain. Research have historically been biased toward compartmentalizing skills into either right brain skills or left brain skills.
What if we are made to use both parts of our brain simultaneously?
The greatest value of our brain power is simply being able to connect all the different skills and process them under one umbrella. Our brains are super computers that do not care which skill comes from which side of the brain.
- When we are being creative, we are often logically evaluating evidence.
- When we are logically evaluating evidence, we are often trying to come up with new theories.
Creativity and logical reasoning go hand in hand. In problem solving, you can’t remove one from the other.
This is where storytelling comes in.
We’ve all seen that child with the imaginary friend. That child who sits to eat and then tries to feed his imaginary friend too. That child who does not want to play with other children because his imaginary friend does not like it.
What is this child doing?
This child is learning to tell a story. This child is helping himself/herself internalize everyday social life by playing out scenarios with his/her imaginary friend.
Let’s look closer at the story.
In a story, there’s always a character.
Let’s name the character: X.
This character takes part in a story. Let’s name the story: A
This character performs some action in the story. Let’s name the action: B
This character has a friend. Let’s name the friend: Y
This story takes place somewhere. Let’s name the place: C
What is this story?
Inside story A, X went to C to perform action B.
Does this look like a program to you?
In a child’s brain, when the child is labeling each character in the story, talking about the actions performed, then stringing all of that into a story line, the child is learning the basics of coding.
How is the story the basis of a math proof?
A generic math proof looks like this:
Let X be the character of the story.
Let A be the story.
Let B be an action.
Let Y be another character in the story.
Let C be the place inside the story.
X + Y = ?
How is the story the basis of a scientific discovery?
Because X performed action B with the help of Y at place C, we can say that Y is related to B.
Teaching a child in the early years is about fostering the child’s natural learning abilities.
This means that we need to recognize how he/she is playing, why our child plays in a certain way and see the value in playing this way.
There’s no need for many puzzles, decks of index cards and many books.
Learning is simple. It is natural.
STEM is the language of the universe. Mathematical formulas govern nature in its universal truths. Different areas of science make sense of the physical environment. Engineering unleash possibilities to create new spaces.
Technology brings SEM all together in an effort to better our lives.
We can’t learn all these areas of knowledge. We shouldn’t need to. The next generation of technologists, scientists, engineers and mathematicians are all interdisciplinary masters. As technology make the discovery process more efficient, each person in these roles will have the ability to delve deeper. Often, delving deeper means casting a wider net into disciplines that are seemingly unrelated.
What does this mean for your child’s education?
This means that we need to teach our children to take initiative. They need to be able to take intellectual leaps into areas of the unknown. Discovery and innovation do not happen applying the same principals. They happen when people constantly tweak and revise existing principals to discover new ones.
A child who can take the initiative to tell a story from the beginning to the end will be extremely valuable.
In the simple act of telling a story, the child is practicing creativity, logical reasoning and to bridge the two. Taking the initiative shows determination and curiosity. Working through the entire story from beginning to the end shows persistence and grit.
In this simple exercise, the child has in fact learned STEM skills as well as character lessons.
Parenting should be simple. Read to your children. Foster their natural curiosity. Allow them time to free play. Engage them in storytelling.
For a parent, that is more than enough to set your child up for success in STEM.
About the Author
Jun Wu is Content Writer for Technology, AI, Data Science, Psychology, and Parenting. She has a background in programming and statistics. On her spare time, she writes poetry and blogs on her parenting website: wellplayedchild.com