In a poem written at about 1000B.C., it talks about the integrity of a JunZi, i.e. a superior person who upholds all the virtues.
The story goes….
Once upon a time, an ordinary man walked through a melon field, and one of his shoes got stuck in the field. The man quickly bent down to fetch the shoe. The melon farmer saw that and thought he was trying to steal the melons.
Similarly, another ordinary man walked under a plum tree with low-hanging branches. The branches messed up his headpiece. While he was stretching his arms upward to fix his headpiece, the plum farmer came running and yelling, thinking that this man was stealing his plums.
The moral of the combined Idiom stories advise us that to be a true JunZi (i.e. a superior person), one would rather leave the shoe behind than risk to be suspected that he might be picking the melons from the ground. Likewise, one would also give up the headpiece without attempting to fix it in the second story in order to avoid the suspicion of stealing the plums on the hanging branches.
This idiom, In the Melon Field Under the Plum Tree, was recorded in the first Poetry Collection, Shi Jing, in 1000 B.C. This is the first Idiom Story that I shared with my students to remind them to never get themselves into a suspicious situation such as looking down at something under the desk during a test.
Growing up, I have loved listening to Idiom Stories that explain the etymology of an idiom. Most idioms typically convey positive messages or constructive lessons.
We love stories!
Children love stories, and grown-ups love stories….
Story-telling is a powerful tool to engage students in second language acquisition.
Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Story-Telling (TPRS) is a methodology that facilitates a natural order of acquisition by focusing on Contextualized Comprehensible Input through auditory and written means while collaboratively creating a story in an interactive manner with the teacher and the students. Students are captivated by the development of the plot first hand because they are experientially responsible for the turns and twists in the story line, with linguistic guidance from the teacher.
Ira Glass’s comments (advices) are interesting… and some are encouraging such as “failure is a big part of success”. I often encourage my students to feel safe to make lots of mistakes, because learning from the mistakes make the experience so much more meaningful.
However, his comments on Radio, such as those below, left me dumbfounded.
“One of the problems with being on public radio is that people tend to think you’re being sincere all the time.”
“Where radio is different than fiction is that even mediocre fiction needs purpose…”
I believe that in order for a story to be GREAT, it must be meaningful! And to be meaningful, it needs to have a function and/or purpose. The primary purposes are: to inform, to convince, to stimulate, to entertain. I found it difficult to accept that good stories can come from someone who is insincere about the story they are telling.
Best seller novelist James Scott Bell pointed out that most writers are not
content merely to write a good story. They want to “say something.” “that something” he said, “is usually called the meaning of a story. Meaning is the “big idea.” It is the moral message that comes through at the end. And all great stories have one.”
Filmmaker Andrew Stanton, who wrote Toy Story and Finding Nemo, says,
“The greatest story commandment is: Make me care.”
Now, THAT is what I consider sincere! And once upon a time, the meaning of a story mattered.
- How to apply TPRS for Best Results, Carol Gaab, http://tinyurl.com/akhudgy
- What makes a story meaningful, Don Edgers, http://www.tiny-lights.com/searchlights.php?id=517
- Writing a Meaningful Story, James Scott Bell, http://www.right-writing.com/meaningful.html