“National Storytelling Week is about giving out to all cultures, tales that give a twinkle to the eye, that raise a question in the mind and stories that have survived the brightness and the shadow of man’s imagination.”
Storytelling comes in many forms and is an underlying presence in our everyday lives. The ritual of telling stories forms an integral part in a child’s development, as Jonathan Gottschall identifies in The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make us Human:
Children the world over delight in stories and start shaping their own pretend worlds as toddlers. Story is so central to the lives of young children that it comes close to defining their existence.
This inherent interest in story makes it the perfect educational tool, as “Storytelling has also been part of formal education for many years. In the nineteenth century, student teachers were trained to tell stories. Stories have obvious significance in the teaching of literacy, but they are also important in other curriculum areas. Stories can assist the development of social awareness and help children to build up an emotional vocabulary. History and geography, science, religious education (RE) and even maths can all come alive through stories.” (Fox Eades, 2005)
An article in The Telegraph in January also noted the academic benefits of storytelling: “Narrative skills in children, the ability to sequence ideas together correctly to tell a story, are essential for academic success.” (The Telegraph, Jan 2014).
That storytelling is of great importance to young children is hardly a surprising revelation. As adults however, we seem to forget that storytelling is still present in everyday life and is as important as ever in forming our view of the world. This is important to grasp when utilising storytelling in secondary schools, to overcome attitudes that it is ‘childish’. Gail de Vos examines the need of young adults for storytelling in Storytelling for Young Adults: A Guide to Tales for Teens as she identifies:
stories fulfil the special needs that young adults have as well. These special needs include the need for entertainment and information, the need to belong, the need to learn in a social context, the need to experience responsibility, the need to establish a self-concept, and the need to communicate with adults who have an interest in them and their concerns.
National Storytelling Week runs from Saturday 1st – Saturday 8th February. Take this opportunity to see how you can bring storytelling into the classroom, developing your pupils’ narrative technique.
Featured image courtesy of UNE Photos.