JK Rowling: Power of Story Expands Minds, Changes Reality

7 06 2008

It’s all here, her funny AND serious personal story told almost shyly at Harvard for commencement weekend, as suggesting some real-life scripts for learning and earning, success and failure, voting, living, protesting, parenting, preventing poverty and pursuing peace.

Rowling quotes Plutarch: “What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality.”

She says the power to imagine is how we can understand and empathize with true life stories far from our own reality, and conversely:

“choosing to live in narrow spaces leads to
a form of mental agoraphobia. . .

I can imagine how this connects to my own power of story. For example, might this help explain the homeschooler fringe whose story I can’t imagine or understand, those whose inward reality is so narrow that they seem to fear “public” spaces inward and outward, to the point that their story literally narrows down to their own home as if they can imagine no other life story for themselves or their children?

And hmmm, I wonder if that’s the only homeschool story our most vigorous critics can imagine, those so earnestly certain we all must be living in such narrow, unimaginative spaces and imprisoning our children with us. Is it the only story they will tell themselves and each other as true, that all home education equals agoraphobia and so we’re all clinically disordered and in need of their life story rewrites?

Is home education’s real public opinion challenge therefore, a failure of imagination in both directions?

We do not need magic to transform our world — we have the power to IMAGINE better.

Frisky cock of the snook to COD for the video link.

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4 responses

7 06 2008
belowthesurface

Great post. I desperately tried to get private and public school settings to work for my child, but it was not to be. Our decision to home school was personal and in our child’s best interest.

Fear-based decisions usually have little to do with love. I speak as one who has battled real agoraphobia, and my heart breaks for the fringe home school kids whose parents base their decisions on fear. Fear not only leaves no room for imagination, it leaves no room for life.

8 06 2008
JJ

Ken Jones, UK Network of Engaged Buddhists, says much the same. 🙂

About how fear-based decisions crowd out love, learning, life and peace:

The origins of the greed and aggressiveness in the world can be traced back, in the final analysis, to insecurity and fear, in both individuals and in whole cultures and societies, which may feel threatened and exploited, and lash out in rage and frustration. . .We need to expose the destructive futility of simplistic black-and-white views of world
problems.

Isn’t “school” as we know it, a whole culture arising from social insecurity and fear? We might argue that its legal compulsions and confiscatory command of an unjustifiable share of taxpayer dollars must arise from fear rather than love. If Compulsory Schooling weren’t based on fear and insecurity, wouldn’t it be much more like libraries, universities and the Internet, much less like prison and the military?

And about how imagination can be world-changing action, even at home as a thinking individual:

I do not think it is difficult to engage
people’s imagination with this the idea, for example, of a daily inner-work work-out comparable to the yoga or other keep-fit session, as a means of keeping socially “fit” for the ethically-motivated work of building a better world.

15 06 2008
JJ

Beautiful power of story posts about finding and losing enchanted places in imagination and in reality — which turn out to be inseparable — by teacher Clay Burrell:

“I’m not sure how much longer I want to work for schools. I’d so much rather teach.”

Part One

Part Two

2 08 2008
Red Sox Trade was Real Change for the Left, for the Right Reasons « Cocking A Snook!

[…] What matters utterly is the very different power of story inside their heads, and ours. That’s what creates the reality we live in, mot stats and not paychecks and not hyped claims of their cynically profiteering agents. “He had a remarkable run here,” said [Theo] Epstein. “His whole career has been remarkable. He’s one of the best right-handed hitters in history and his numbers speak for themselves. He was a key part of two World Series teams. No one can ever take that away from him. We’re not going to. We don’t want to. We wish him well going forward and realize as we sit here today on Aug. 1 that’s now in our past and we’re moving forward as a team.” […]

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