When I was a child, my father would tell us stories while my siblings and I were getting ready to sleep. He had created a series of stories called “The Adventures of Booroo and Pooroo”. The two main characters, Booroo and Pooroo, lived many adventures day and night. They were both shapeshifters and could change their appearance, size, and shape as they wanted or needed during each of the stories. One night, they were pirates looking for hidden treasures; the following night, they were astronauts going on a space mission to save our planet from dangerous alien attacks; other times they were teachers, engineers, mothers, children, toys, trees, ants, pens, whatever one can imagine, all while doing heroic work to do good in the world.
What was fascinating was that my father infused what had happened to us individually or as a family during the day into these stories. If I had a bad day at school, or if my classmates, principal, or teachers weren’t fair or nice, he would make a villain based on the traits Booroo and Pooroo had to deal with. If he had a bad day at work, he would find a way to fit it into the storyline to enlist the help of Booroo and Pooroo to help him solve the problem. Now, looking back on those experiences, I understand that it was a form of instilling life lessons in us and the “incubation process” for him and for us – looking at problems from different angles and trying to solve the problems while letting the brain analyse, understand and propose either acceptance or plausible courses of action (Elbow, 1981; Krashen, 2001; Wallas, 1926).
Along with these brain functions, it also unconsciously aided our first language acquisition. He had a wide range of interests in different fields of knowledge and used words and technical terms from various fields throughout the stories. I learned a lot about math, physics and meteorology (which were all part of his profession) as well as cooking, sewing, astronomy, mechanics and electronics, among many other fields and skills essentials of life. Each adventure required a variety of skills that Booroo and Pooroo needed to develop to complete the mission successfully, and we children as listeners needed to know the vocabulary and structures to be able to follow the adventures with them. It was an organic and continuous supply of comprehensible, convincing, rich and abundant language and knowledge: the criteria for an optimal contribution to first and second language acquisition (Ashtari and Krashen, 2020; Krashen and Mason, 2020).
Sometimes, if he was too tired, my father would fall asleep telling the story. However, because he had sparked interest and curiosity in the stories, my imagination would continue to create the plots, events, and dialogues between the characters for as long as I could keep my eyes open before finally falling asleep. Now, decades later, as I myself have become an educator, I think of the power of these stories in my language acquisition and in building knowledge bases in different areas of life. In the field of education, we say that one of the main objectives of a good educator is to fan the flames of the fire that already exists in each of our students, so that they can hopefully learn to protect the fire in all conditions. themselves and become independent in their own learning. This way, we can help our students be better equipped to create the best versions of their own stories as they pursue and enhance their knowledge, skills, and career options. After all, like Booroo and Pooroo, we are all made up of stories waiting to be uncovered and told.
Ashtari, N. and Krashen, S. (2020). “The Power of ‘Short and Simple’ Books: How Mahmoud Hessabi Acquired German.” Journal of language issues1(1), 47–53. www.researchgate.net/publication/341477568_The_Power_of_Short_and_Simple_Books_How_Mahmoud_Hessabi_Acquired_German
Elbow, P. (1981). write with power. New York: Oxford University Press.
Krashen, S. (2001). “Incubation: a neglected aspect of the composition process? SLA review4(2), 10–11. www.sdkrashen.com/content/articles/incubation.pdf
Krashen, S. and Mason, B. (2020). The “optimal input hypothesis: not all comprehensible inputs have the same value”. CATESOL Newsletter1–2. www.researchgate.net/publication/341503469_The_Optimal_Input_Hypothesis_Not_All_Comprehensible_Input_is_of_Equal_Value
Wallas, G. (1926). The Art of Thinking: Excerpts Reprinted in Creativity. PE Vernon (ed.). Middlesex, England: Penguin, pp. 91–97.
Nooshan Ashtari could string together a list of words, titles and places to describe their profession and expertise. However, the truth is that she is still writing and reading her own story and shaping her multiple identities as a human, an educator and a researcher.