Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Telling True Stories
It has become a habit for the children to ask me at lunch time to tell them a story about what I did the day before. This started on a day I told a true story during lunch about how I locked myself out of my house the previous day while leaving a pot of rice to cook on the stove. The silence in the lunch room as I recounted how I unsuccessfully tried to climb in through the tiny bathroom window, from where I could see the smoke starting to rise from the burning rice in the pot, how my feet got murdered by mosquitoes as the daylight quickly faded, how I had the (brilliant) idea of turning off the gas tanks therefore cutting the gas from the stove. It was one of the best true stories I've told this year and I often get asked to tell it again.
I am impressed at how much attention a good true story will garner from the children. It is hands down the best way to get their undivided attention during a group meeting. And they remember every detail- as I find when I review the story with them through the "Question Game". At night, I'm often thinking way back into my past trying to find a good story to tell them about when I was their age, how I saw things, mistakes I made, things I found valuable.
It reminds me of the importance of oral tradition as a way to pass on culture, values, and beliefs. Also, how in a world that overly stimulates the visual sense, what a treat it is to listen to a good story and find that the pictures from the story start to appear in your own mind!
I love stories and am a huge fan of podcasts such as The Moth, This American Life, and Selected Shorts , particularly the first, where people tell stories live and without any notes.
Touching back on training and the purposes of a true story in the classroom, they are a great way of modeling to a child how to express ideas clearly and in logical sequence (and the concept that stories HAVE ENDINGS.) And what I see most clearly reflected back to me from our own work with true stories, they are a preparation for the child to tell their own stories in oral or written form.
I also love it when I get my own story told back to me, from the point of view of a child. It's as if sometimes, just because you were able to imagine you were there, the story becomes your experience too.