How does the term "griot" apply to this collection of stories? What social value does this collection of stories have for us?Choose a person who models authentic leadership and explained, using...

How does the term "griot" apply to this collection of stories? What social value does this collection of stories have for us?Choose a person who models authentic leadership and explained, using criteria from either the intrapersonal, developmental or interpersonal approaches.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The term "griot" can refer to artists who use oral storytelling tradition to keep narratives alive. The members of a class of griots places primacy on oral history, or narratives that might go away with time.  Preserving that element becomes critical to preserving this tradition. 

This idea is seen in the narratives at storycorps.com.  One example would be the story of the two firefighters who shared their first Valentine's Day over a fire, as they wore "big, stinky heavy gear."  There was little that would be Romantic between them, but sharing the moment together.  Another example would be the story of Barbara Amaya who fell into the hands of a human trafficker.  She speaks of how her voice was denied through manipulation, force, and drug use.  Barbara articulates how she persevered through shame and reteaching, reaching full circle in how she opened up to her mother about how what happened.  In how another family spoke of their youngest daughter, Alexis, and how she lived and died from complications of CHARGE syndrome, the family recalls how Alexis's greatest gift was the striving to live life the way Alexis did.  Finally, in a mother's and daughter's recollections about a missing husband and father, one understands the pain and joy of human consciousness. Hearing about the last days of playwright Spalding Gray how he imparted to his loved ones "how to think—how to see the world" represents a lesson that transcends his disappearance and suicide.  

The tradition of the griot unifies these narratives.  They are a collection of modern folklore and identity.  These are regular people who have done battle with the most extraordinary of forces.  In each narrative, one recognizes how the most intense battles of consciousness have been fought.  They are on the level of Homeric battles, worthy of epic recognition.  It is for this reason that the griot tradition can apply to them.  As they take the human experience and apply them to specific context.  Hearing their voice preserved through the storytelling format enables individuals to understand the overall purpose and relevance they present in our own lives.  It is in this vein where their social value is most evident.  Socially, these stories speak to a resilience in the human condition and they enable individuals to better understand who they are and what defines them.

I think that one of the best examples of interpersonal relationships is seen in Barbara Amaya.  When we understand interpersonal relationship as a form of leadership that emphasizes open and honest relationships between individuals, one sees that Barbara embodies such an idea.  She is open about her struggle:  

By the time I… I was 20, I was heavily addicted to heroin, weighed 90 pounds at 5'9". I probably wouldn't have lasted very much longer but something inside me wanted to live. I don't know what it was. And I left New York. I had a sixth grade education. I had to go back to school carrying all this shame, you know?

There is no deception in her. She speaks from a position of strength that emerges from her own suffering.  It is a method of leadership that asserts when a person is "in a lot of bad situations—you always find a way to fix it."  This interpersonal approach is inspirational and embodies the essence of leadership.

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