A Pirate's Resources

Exercise 4 :: Values :: So, What's Valuable to Your Student?

When your student writes a story, there are all kinds of hidden elements that lurk beneath the surface. Part of the purpose of A Pirate’s Guide is to bring those out into the light so they can be developed and strengthen the story. Here’s an example of something that, at first glance, might not seem like an essential story element. Values. Such a little word for a rather simple concept that can be a real challenge to explain and work through with your student. Values are things that are valuable. Stories are full of things that have perceived value - are believed to be important, worthwhile, or useful. Though it might seem tangential, it is critical to the story. Stories come out of values - that is, stories rise up out of the things that are deemed valuable in the story world.

Values come in many shapes and forms - they are often things that are not necessarily tangible or touchable. Patriotism, love, strong work ethic, science, etc., are all different kinds of values. And these intangible values often have tangible representations of them - like the flag, hearts, muscles, text books. There can even be “values” that we don’t consider valuable in the positive sense (like cheating), but which might be valuable to a character (like a card shark). There are also tangible things that can be useful for the value - like the Constitution, flowers, tools, beakers.

Help your storytellers see that these intangible things that give a story some basis can be demonstrated in the story through very concrete things.

A more detailed explanation and the exercise that digs into the idea of
Values is in exercise #4 in A Pirate’s Guide. Remember, as you go through this exercise, if you are struggling, go back to the story chapter before it, and see if you and your student can find some examples of values in that story itself. Then go through the exercise just one step at a time. If it is taxing, scale back a bit, or do half the brainstorming, and come back another time to finish. And there are no right or wrong answers, we are looking for good effort and a willingness to work hard to both understand and to create these values!

In Real Life :: As a parent, you can get a peek into what your child values by keeping your eyes open in what they are mind storming about, and what goes into their own stories. The values that are important to them will naturally come up in the story. Recognizing them as valuable things, you can subtly ask them more questions, show interest, and hopefully get to know your child better. And they can then add elements that draw that out and give the story depth. Recognizing values (and the things that represent them) in real life also help us to understand the people in our life. Imagine Grandma has a very special vase that she uses on special occasions. This is a significant object, and when you ask her about it, she’ll tell you that it was brought to the United States by her mother when she fled Russia. Her mother had to hide it and keep it from breaking, and it is one of the only things your Grandma has from the old country. Knowing this, you can recognize one of her values - having a tie to her heritage.

Finding it in the Story :: pg 33 :: we can find several values (a tight ship, being on time, no fighting, and being fit, to name a few) that have distinct actions/things that demonstrate them (getting up for routine, doing exercises, etc).