Artifaxis is updated on Tuesday and Friday

Something said by a friend today got me thinking. At the moment, we're about to start looking at the story of Elijah at our housegroup, and he commented that we rarely study narrative - usually, we look at instruction and teaching. Is that a particularly Western thing, to shy away from studying stories and to concentrate more on analysing discourse? He thought it might be so, and that in other cultures, people study narrative much more willingly, although not necessarily more or less effectively. I always thought of stories as one of the older and more intuitive ways people learn. Do they in turn discourage the analytical way of thought cultivated in this culture (or at least, the part of this culture I have been exposed to)? I wonder if it's significant that, when writing a scientific paper, it is common to structure the wording to make a good 'story,' not to make things up, of course, but to set out the history of the experiments in a logically and temporally pleasing way - almost a narratively pleasing one, if that's a word. Certainly, papers that are well written have a sense of narrative about them, a logical progression from one experiment to the other, although it is more likely they were at least a bit concurrent in the actual execution.

Anyway, I'm waffling and it's time for bed. I think both ways of learning are important and should be encouraged, because both stimulate the brain in different ways. Can one learn exactly the same thing, in the same depth, from both forms of learning? Almost certainly not, but I honestly have no idea how that would ever be tested, so it can remain an exercise for the reader, for now, but definitely not a trivial one ;) There's further related discussion on the wiki at Do We Need Stories?

Shirin's name means 'sweet,' by the way, and is Persian. Neither of which is the reason it was selected.

- Sun Kitten, 5th May '06

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