This week’s Beacon Lecture for Tormead’s scholars was presented by our author in residence and English teacher, Ms Brackfield. The evening’s talk focused on ‘The Power of Stories’, how we are all innate storytellers, how stories have helped us evolve over centuries and how, with the correct story arc and narrative, you can convince anyone to do something.

Drawing on examples from the psychologist and economist, Daniel Kahneman, she explained his theory of reasoning; how almost all processes and decision-making are a mix of two systems of thinking. “System 1” is fast, instinctive and emotional; “System 2” is slower, more deliberative, and more logical. Another essential reference was the work by the author, Yuval Noah Harari. In his book Sapiens: A Brief History of Mankind, he concludes that “We rule the world because we are the only animal that can believe in things that exist purely in our own imagination, such as gods, states, money and human rights.”

Ms Brackfield went on to explain why we need stories, how they make us feel in control and explain our place in the world, whether through fairy tales, Greek tragedies or gossip. Some of the earliest stories, like The Cosmic Hunt, the origin story of the Ursa Major-Great Bear star constellation, have been repeated and re-imagined over centuries across multiple civilisations and cultures.

Ending the truly inspirational and passionate lecture, Ms Brackfield explained how we need to write better, stronger stories that rise to meet the challenges of the future. Only then can we help to transform the future.

Author in residence and English teacher, Ms Philippa Brackfield

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