Fetal Alcohol Syndrome has many troubling faces. I will speak to only one of them which affects all the others – poor short term and verbal memory. Students suffering from this condition are unable to memorize facts and word lists, to follow directions, or to generally organize their lives. This limits abstract thinking and makes them poor test takers. The inability to succeed causes low self-esteem. Poor social skills, another symptom, cause depression and loneliness when peers avoid, shun and bully them. All of this spells doom for FAS students.
Our top-down, teach-test centered, linear model of education, pushes students who can’t keep up into the depths of despair.
A SOLUTION – STORY-BASED LEARNING
Improve Your Memory workshops often suggest that building a story, however silly, around what you want to remember is an effective way to improve memory. Keynote speakers deliver their message by telling stories. The most sought after speakers are the ones who tell the best stories. We learn about each other by telling and listening to stories. The stories people create around us shape who we become. Story is how knowledge was learned and passed down for all of time before the printing press made reading accessible to the masses.
This is why my Story Circle Model of education is so powerful, especially for FAS students and those with other learning difficulties. They learn best through story, the natural way to access and remember information. Story gives them a rack to hang their thoughts on and where they can be retrieved when needed.
Everything in the Story Circle Model arises from, and is tied to, story. Students continuously use new insights and information to create an ever-widening pool of stories that inform their thinking. Learning is personalized, exciting and functional. Music, Art, Drama and Writing are the vehicles that make learning permanent and memorable in the Story Circle Model.
VISIONS OF POSSIBILTY
The linear model of education, in vogue for the last 150 years, will NEVER, NEVER, NEVER be successful for Fetal Alcohol Students (or for a host of others for that matter). The Story Circle Model offers those who are hampered by FAS, as well as others who are failing under the antiquated linear model we have in place, a learning environment that is fulfilling and enjoyable.
I’m looking forward to spreading the Story Circle Model around the world to benefit students everywhere.