Thursday, August 29, 2013


...From the beginning of time, stories have filled a universal need for context and meaning. All cultures have their stories, many with universal themes, plots and imagery. Stories are fundamental to the psychological development of children. They help us shape our understanding of the world and make meaningful connections with each other. Stories give us a sense of shared history and destiny and help us see our common foibles and predicaments. They help us confront our fears and formulate our hopes and aspirations.

The Teaching-Story, a special form of literature most common in Afghanistan, Central Asia and the Middle East, does all this and more. Its real psychological significance and developmental potential is just now being rediscovered, investigated and applied in the West....

A Teaching-Story may “read” like any ordinary fairy or folk tale used to entertain or convey a moral lesson. But as they have been used for millennia in the East, these tales are designed to have a specific effect on the mind.

In a Teaching-Story, the characters, plots and imagery embody patterns and relationships to nurture a part of the mind not reachable in more direct ways. Studies have shown that reading or hearing a Teaching-Story activates the right side of the brain much more than does reading other stories or material. The right side of the brain provides ‘context,’ the essential function of putting together different components of experience into a meaningful pattern. The left side provides the ‘text,’ or the components such as  the words or elements of an illustration.

Teaching-Stories often contain improbable events that lead our minds into new and unexplored venues. They help us prepare for unexpected connections between events and see new possibilities and alternative ways of doing things. They help us develop more flexibility in how we understand and deal with our complex world. Teaching-Stories have multiple layers of meaning which may be revealed over time, or in response to some other experience or event.

Read a Teaching-Story:
The Story of Muskil Gusha

ISHK projects with teaching-stories:
• Hoopoe Books for Children 
• Children's Literacy

Audiobooks with Teaching-Stories:
The Teaching-Story
An Advanced Psychology of the East
Learning from Stories
On the Nature of Sufi Knowledge

Also see The Idries Shah Foundation

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