The Nature of Learning Stories

In 1994, Paula Underwood wrote the following as an introduction to the Three Native American Learning Stories:

On The Nature of Learning Stories

“Learning Stories are designed to engender questions, not to answer them – to raise issues, not to resolve them. They are an invitation to contemplation.

‘Look how the world can be, ‘ they tell us. ‘Look what is here! If you were there then, instead of here now, what would your answer be?’ they imply.

And so we feel ourselves oddly incomplete . . . and yet complete.

Unanswered, yet filled with questions.

Such Tellings are not designed to teach a culture so much as they are designed to exercise the mind, the Spirit, the walk-around way each of us chooses.

Which path for you, my Brother, my Sister? Which path do you choose? I, who study with you, I choose this one! But which do you choose? And let us share our thoughts with one another as we each choose a path. Then we will both be wiser.

Such tellings, such Learning Stories, enable us to learn from each other as much as we learn from the words, the images. They enable us to learn from our own wisdom, that which sometimes hides behind assumptions . . . family assumptions, community assumptions. They liberate rather than define.

Wonder . . . about possibilities.

This is the invitation that comes to each of us through any Learning Story. Explore, redefine, examine . . .

And if you lack Long Life Wisdom, you will therefore have New Eyes Wisdom, the gift of youth. Whatever your gift, apply it to the circumstance, this circumstance, every circumstance.

Let us learn together, my Brothers, my Sisters. Let us learn together, Grandfather, Grandmother, all Earth’s children.

Let us learn together.”

The Three Native American Learning Stories are:

  • Who Speaks for Wolf: How the People, when faced with difficult choices, learned to make good decisions.
  • Winter White and Summer Gold: How the People learned to plan for the seventh generation.
  • Many Circles, Many Paths: How the People learned to co-exist with their enemies and find peace within their community.

These Learning Stories are available from Tribe of Two Press: