The Power of the Anecdote

A recent New York Times article reports that a number of colleges are “rethinking” the college tour to make it a more individualized experience. They’re doing this by de-emphasizing statistics and walking forward. For years, Stanford tour guides have embraced the power of the anecdote over knowing when every building was built on campus (not that they don’t know that too). The reason why I came to Stanford wasn’t because Hoover Tower was built in 1941; I came because a few Stanford students clandestinely joined my tour and began asking questions about steam tunneling. They’re still in the backward motion camp, but, contrary to the article, I think it actually improves communication. It’s tough for a guide to lead from the back and otherwise they risk only interacting with the people at the front of the tour. Stanford tour guides will continue to lead the group looking back, just as they always have.

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