Storytelling Builds Kinder and Smarter Citizens

A program called Common Ground will build empathy and compassion among students through facilitated story exchanges.

Photo of Cara Brancoli
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Building empathy offline is essential to building empathy online.  Storytelling has been the conduit to finding our shared humanity since time immemorial. 

Common Ground is a program that would bring students together who self-identify as very different, perhaps economically, politically, socially, etc. Paired students would share personal stories with one another using a prepared set of questions designed to foster understanding (Storycorp model). Then, in the final step, each person would repeat his or her partner's story back in the first person (Narrative4 model).

We would like to record the conversations and share compelling moments via podcasts, and social media to foster understanding and empathy on a larger scale.

Common Ground, at its heart, is about giving students the tools to listen and absorb each others' stories, and consequently walk away with sense of compassion and understanding. This is one possible pathway to building kinder citizens, offline and on.


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Photo of John Faig

LOVE this idea. Storytelling is powerful. I can envision having a digital archive of stories (grouped by category and/or age) that are contributed by students AND teachers. The stories should be anonymous and the collection should retain all stories from past students.

Photo of Cara Brancoli

Love the idea of a story archive! Thanks for sharing!