When in doubt, tell a story. As a therapist, I know that the right story, told just the right way, is powerful.
Milton H. Erickson, a 20th-century psychiatrist, was a master of powerful storytelling. His potent, hypnotic techniques are collected in the book My Voice Will Go With You: The Teaching Tales of Milton H. Erickson, edited by Sidney Rosen. In his stories, Dr. Erickson uses irresistible metaphors that resonate with the unconscious mind. He embeds messages in layers of stories, using tone and tempo like surgical tools.
As an educator, I have learned to tell classroom stories the way I tell therapy stories. I embed information with my tone and tempo. I incorporate some of Dr. Erickson’s oracular pronouncements, such as "You know more than you think you know," and you can get in touch with "something that you already know but don’t know that you know."
This book taught me that I, too, know some things that I did not know I knew. Dr. Erickson’s voice goes with me, to every class I teach.
Nicki Nance is an assistant professor of human services and psychology at Beacon College, in Florida.