Schools

Storytelling Develops:

  • Self Reflection
  • Empathy
  • Memory
  • Drama
  • Story Writing

Interactive Storytelling and Exercises for Pre-Primary to Year 7,
High School Workshops by Negotiation.

I have a repertoire of stories and activities which I vary according to age. Which activities I run depends on the purpose of the lesson and the time available. I always start by telling a story and if there is enough time I finish on one.
No special facilities are needed but a space for students to move about in is required for certain activities. For middle school students it would be most beneficial to have a space large enough for them to swing their arms without touching each other. Also if you would like students to write their stories as opposed to memorising them. Then they will obviously require pen and paper.

Younger students primarily learn through imitation and thus the focus is on instilling a love of story and storytelling. Participation is of primary importance and giving children the power and confidence to shape a story themselves is emphasised. For older students I normally work with archetypal story structures, metaphor, story language and dilemma stories (those that leave a question hanging). If space is available we can also do some dramatic characterisation exercises and explore different emotions and moods (how do they affect one's speech & non-verbal communication, what influence do they have on others and how can they be used within the context of storytelling.) Depending on the maturity of the group it may be possible to work with personal stories which have the potential to be an enlightening experience. Obviously it is not possible to properly cover all of the above in one session and I tweak my workshops for each occasion and adjust them to emphasise whatever aspects suit to purpose of the session.

Some example exercises:

  • Story Language: Make a story of someone's day. (In pairs students relate what they did yesterday and their partner must tell it back to them as a story about a fictional character)
  • Characterisation: Find two characters by using the Chekov "centres" technique. By Switching from one character to another discover what happens when these two characters meet. Do they like eachother? How do they interact?

  • Age Appropriate Stories

    When selecting which story to tell I draw on the work of Rudolf Steiner. My understanding is summarised below.

    Preprimary children, aged 4-7 are learning about their bodies and the physical world. They love soft gentle nurturing stories about the world they live in and finger games; jumping, marching and moving games; and roleplaying games where they practice doing things in the imaginary world that they cannot yet physically acomplish.

    Children grow a great deal between four and severn, and my stories and games reflect this. However there is one thing I have found that does not change from two to fourteen; that children love to have fun with an adult who is having fun with them.

    For most of their primary schooling, Age 7-14, children are developing their emotional relationship with the outer world. For this reason it is important that beauty is emphasized. The ugliness in the world need not be hidden from children but beauty and goodness needs to outweigh it or the child risks developing a pessimistic, defeatist attitude which can last well after they would have otherwise gained the ability to address this ugliness.

    For lower primary, age 6-7, I tell a story with the subtext and mood that everything happens for a reason, and it all works out in the end. This allows children to pick up on other aspects modelled in the story; doing good work, heeding advice, owning up to mistakes, etc.

    For clidren aged 8-9 the archetype of imbalance and tasks required to restore it is well suited. At this age they are becoming aware of the imbalances in the world but still need to believe that adults know how to fix everything. Age 10 is the typical time that children have a rude awakening to the fact that we don't.

    For age 10-11, I use a similar archetype but remove the external advice and accentuate the cleverness and trickery of the Hero. At age 10-11 this trickery corresponds to the child's awakening ability, and need, to put forward their own ideas and agendas. Adults do not know everything but children at this age do not yet have the power to challenge adults' authority or champion their own ideas, so trickery is what works best for them. Stories show both the value and danger of this trickery.

    Age 12-13, sees the build up to the start of the next stage 14-21, where Truth is the focus. It is during the years 14-21 that people generally develop their mental outlook on the world. It is also generally the most emotional time in a persons life when they are grappling with who they want to be and how they will make their way in the world. When telling stories to ages 12-13 I emphasize transformation and the overcoming of dificulties via personal growth.