Thursday, July 19, 2007

Yashinsky "Stories for the Crossroads" Pgs. 67-79

In the 'Stories for the Crossroads' chapter, Yashinsky provides guidance regarding the importance of recalling and retaining family stories. He begins with the common statement that often people tell him that they did not hear any stories when they were young from their older parents and relatives due to high speed life, shyness, or poor memory. He points out that when a question is asked the respondent then flows with a litany of stories. Yashinsky's profound assessment is that everyone grows up surrounded by narrative and later on realizes that they were hearing "...and unconsciously collecting them all along."

He goes on to conclude that family sayings and stories heard by a child build the structure that children use to understand their place in the larger structure of the world.

The chapter then defines his term: Stories at the Crossroads". Yashinsky defines his younger days: "I grew up in a crossroads family, the only child of an American father and Romanian mother." He then spends 11 of the 13 pages in the chapter with a series of personal family stories regarding his parents, grandparents, and relatives.

Personal Assessment: I totally agree with the importance of recalling, retaining, and passing down family stories. Yashinsky' were very well written and touching to the heart, and inspired me to harrow my memory for those that were in my youth. Unfortunately, the downside of the chapter was that there was very little guidance provided as to how to consciously recollect what was unconsciously stored. It seemed more like a personal biography than a toolbox. Inspiration is OK, but provide a tool box if you have one.


David said...

Your criticisms of Yashinksy are fair, I believe. He does appear to go on about his achievements at the expense of instruction. However, it might be useful to consider the distinctions between "rules" and "cases" in Schank. From the Forward: "Rules are sparse; we forget them. Stories, being rich in details, are multiply indexable." In Yashinksy, we have a teaching tradition rooted in parable - setting stories side by side, rather than offering a direct address. This can be frustrating, even tedious. Over time, however, it may prove to be variously inspiring.

Barnabus said...

I was considering from the Schank perspective. As Yashinsky said in one pargraph, he was not telling to us in person, he was telling through a book. My recommendation would be that adjust the book such that he says I will now write a chain of stories. Before looking forward in the book, read it aloud and see what it triggers in your mind. He could then leave a couple of blank pages for the reader listener to then pull his/her own trigger.