What’s the Story – Again!

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I’ve written before about What’s the Story: the Vermont Young People Social Action Team and about some of the terrific work they’ve done (such as a video called Breaking Binary, which I hope you have seen). An experiential and digital storytelling course for middle- and high-schoolers, WTS is in its third highly successful year. As they put it in a recent update,

WTS is working with 30 learners, aged 12 to 18 and representing 10 secondary schools in Vermont, 11 adult instructional team members, and an additional 25 dedicated academics and social change agents particpiating in our blogging. At last count, there have been 257 meaning-making blog posts on issues of social concern, twice as many comments, and almost 8,000 visits to our site and narrative research, since mid-September.

I love WTS especially because the students are involved in identifying and acting on issues related to social justice and change. Much more than an ordinary “course,” this project brings young folks together in retreats, during which they propose issues for study and action, 5-minute “pitches” they work on and practice and then present before the whole group, hoping to inspire others to join them. A thoroughly collaborative project, WTS asks students to consider how narratives or stories told by others affect their lives and to conceive of and compose better stories of their own, stories more true to who they know they are. Working with Middlebury College’s Bread Loaf Teacher Network, these students are already writers/authors, thinking about and debating social issues of personal and national (and international) significance and making their voices heard on these issues. I would love to see schools in northern California band together to mount such a course of study and action, very much in the spirit of the course I taught at Bread Loaf last summer on Writing and Acting for Change. Goodness knows, we need these young people and their ideas today more than ever.

I hope you’ll check out their website. If you do, you’ll see additional photos, but here’s one of the group at the retreat mentioned above. Hooray for What’s the Story!


About the Author
Andrea A. Lunsford is the former director of the Program in Writing and Rhetoric at Stanford University and teaches at the Bread Loaf School of English. A past chair of CCCC, she has won the major publication awards in both the CCCC and MLA. For Bedford/St. Martin's, she is the author of The St. Martin's Handbook, The Everyday Writer and EasyWriter; The Presence of Others and Everything's an Argument with John Ruszkiewicz; and Everything's an Argument with Readings with John Ruszkiewicz and Keith Walters. She has never met a student she didn’t like—and she is excited about the possibilities for writers in the “literacy revolution” brought about by today’s technology. In addition to Andrea’s regular blog posts inspired by her teaching, reading, and traveling, her “Multimodal Mondays” posts offer ideas for introducing low-stakes multimodal assignments to the composition classroom.