Saturday, July 21, 2007

Schank: Chpt. 4 Indexing Stories, Pgs. 84 - 113

Schank begins with a clear statement: "It is all well and good to say understanding means telling good stories and to say that we respond to stories with stories, but this leaves out a key question: How do we find stories that we wish to tell? And from this question follows another key question: How does one know that one has a story to tell?" Schank responds with the answer: Indexing.

Basically indexing was illustrated in Chapter 3 with real world examples. Chapter 4 explains how to index. Schank states that the indices from the conversation stories in Chapter 3 can be looked at by reducing them to a form independent of the words used to express them. He says that to discuss indices, we must find a language in terms of which they can be discussed. He then refers to Scripts, Plans, Goals and Understanding which are general life themes that tend to generate goals. Indices have a basic structure in common: they all have themes. He recommends a structure when indexing a story: Theme, Goal, Plan, Result, Lesson.

Schank goes on to say that if a story does not have a result or lesson it is not a story and will not be recalled. The biggie is the lesson learned, particularly for 'advisory' stories.

Schank then points out that all stories are not of the same gist. His example is that there are observation stories that are not related to advisory stories and have a different index because they are retrieved in a different way. Schank says that "...we have different intentions in telling each kind of story, and therefore we have different ways of finding stories to tell."

Schank states that: "advisory conversations give rise to advisory stories, and conversations focused on a given topic lead to observation stories." Obviously, as cued by Schank, a proverb is a short advisory story and is composed of the same indices described earlier. He provides some good advice for constructing and advisory story: "...we can find all the indices we need by looking at proverbs or by looking at the observations and conclusions people draw from life."

Personal Assessment: I understand the strength that can be added to a story by indicing it to meet the listeners stories in waiting.

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