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Psychologist:Storytelling Fosters Resilience

By Katie Ash — December 11, 2008 1 min read

Piggybacking on our post a few days ago about Radio Rookies, here’s a commentary on edweek.org that talks about how giving kids, especially those growing up under tough circumstances, the resources to tell their own stories fosters resilience and hope.

[Psychologist James W.] Pennebaker has found in his research that people facing chronic difficulties in their lives, such as traumatic losses or injuries, benefit greatly from telling stories about their experiences and feelings. In fact, a number of research studies have validated the fact that writing about difficult circumstances is therapeutic for those unable to change what they must live through.

To that end, the John Templeton Foundation has established an essay-writing program based around these principles, which has been implemented in many school districts, including Plainfield, N.J.—a diverse, low-income, urban district. In that district, the superintendent credits the essay program with “helping improve students’ progress in both literacy and character development,” a “renewed enthusiasm for writing,” and “a deeper understanding of the long-term implications of their everyday decisions and actions.”

The commentary includes excerpts from students’ essays, and it’s definitely worth checking out.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Motivation Matters blog.

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