Storytelling in the Classroom

“The shortest distance between two people is a story.”

Ancient proverb

It is likely that oral storytelling has been around for as long as there has been human language, as ancient communities were  maintained and strengthened through stories that connected the past with the present and the future.  Writing (and drawing) in his indispensable study of the history of the comic book – Graphic Storytelling and Visual Art – the great American comic book writer Will Eisner considers the importance of storytelling in any medium:-

“The telling of a story lies deep in the social behaviour of human groups – ancient and modern. Stories are used to teach behaviour, to discuss morals and values, or to satisfy curiosity. They dramatize social relations and the problems of living, convey ideas or act out fantasies. The telling of a story requires skill.”

Here is Roger Hurn’s ‘take’ on teachers as the inheritors of the storyteller’s tradition, presented by Brainpop‘s famous duo, Tim and Moby.

Teachers, of course, have long recognised the power of storytelling, and now it appears that the introduction in Scotland of new curriculum guidelines has encouraged a revival in story-based pedagogy in the classroom, as witnessed by a growing interest in the Storyline approach which originated in Scotland but has lain dormant for a number of years, and the exciting work being done at the Scottish Storytelling Centre.

To try to establish whether this renaissance is random and coincidental, or whether there is a systematic story movement growing across the country, former primary teacher-turned researcher Fiona McGarry is collecting data via an e-survey to inform a research project on the use of story in the primary classroom. The survey forms part of a national study on the use of story in the primary classroom by the University of Dundee, in association with Scottish Youth Theatre and The Scottish Storytelling Centre. It takes about 5 minutes to complete, and as a “thank you”, teachers completing the survey will be entered into a prize draw for a 15- book Roald Dahl Collection.  The results of the survey, and the implications for practice arising from these will be shared via Glow when the data analysis has been completed. So if you are a primary teacher in Scotland, or if you know any primary teachers in Scotland……….you know the rest!

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2 thoughts on “Storytelling in the Classroom

  1. What a great reminder of the basic human connection. Teaching and learning must assume a prerequisite that a teacher is a people person and congenial sharing is the simplest compassionate act that one can offer another outside of a pleasant greeting at each period of the day and servicing another’s apparent necessities. Teaching is often referred to for passing –on information regarding the humanities and sciences and preserving the democracy. It is exclusively accomplished as an art and science of gifted people to engage learners reluctant or not with a measurable and instructional design. But it starts with a story indeed.

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