Last night WWNO – the local NPR station – hosted a night with Ira Glass centered around the future and reinvention of radio. The program was slightly mislabeled because Glass focused his presentation on the structure and power of stories and story telling in the human experience. Specifically, he explored how the structure of “This American Life” is built around small moments that then have their meanings and importance explored by both the storytellers and Glass himself. He traced this style of story telling from the allegories of Jesus, the short stories of David Sedaris, and the everyday conversation of humans.
As teachers, we found ourselves identifying similarities between Glass’s claim that a great story makes the reader continuously ask questions and what we teach our own students about how to connect with a text. Additionally, Glass declared that the “topic sentence,” an essential part of elementary and middle school writing, has been the death of good writing in the classroom – something Jesus, he claimed, would agree with.
One last note, Glass and his team at This American Life have spent a significant amount of time in New Orleans post-Katrina reporting on the lives here. You could tell that the crowd connected with those efforts to tell the story of New Orleans as it has undergone great trauma and changes over the past 6 years – despite their inability to understand the fast-talking Northerner at times throughout the night.