Liz Buchan, Head of Lower School

A recent yearlong, school-wide theme was Share Stories. Sharing stories, and the connectedness that it creates, plays a significant role in the strength of our community and in learning.

To kick off our theme, We talked about how we are all connected—If one of us is having a great day, our collective happiness is greater. And if one of us is having a rough time or feeling excluded, we are, as a group, just a little less happy. If one of us needs help with a concept in class, we all benefit from answering each other’s questions. We know each other. We need each other. We pick each other up and celebrate each other’s successes. At Tower—we are all known and needed.

This makes us feel good, to be sure, but it’s much more than that. One of my favorite summer reads is Daniel Coyle’s The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups. Coyle writes about the power of stories and connectedness that allow people to establish a link that drives engagement and success. He writes, 

“We tend to use the word story casually, as if stories and narratives were ephemeral decorations for some unchanging underlying reality. The deeper neurological truth is that stories do not cloak reality, but create it, triggering cascades of perception and motivation. The proof is in the brain scans: When we hear a fact, a few isolated areas of our brain light up, translating words and meanings. When we hear a story, however, our brain lights up like Las Vegas, tracing the chains of cause, effect, and meaning. Stories are not just stories; they are the best invention ever created for delivering mental models that drive behavior.”

In other words, stories drive positive, successful learning behavior. 

This is why we emphasize connectedness and social skills. They set the stage for lighting up those brains and create meaning for children across all disciplines and in all parts of their learning.