"Become aware what is in you. Announce it, pronounce it, produce it and give birth to it." - Meister Eckhart

21 April 2015

Day 18 of the A to Z Blogging Challenge: R is for Reading

R is for Reading

I'm going to state the obvious: reading a story and telling a story are two different things. I love both of them. As a storyteller, I love to tell stories, as my 7-yr old grandson says, "out of my mouth".But I also love to read stories to my partner and friends. And, I love being read to. I think most people do.

In fact, to many, storytelling is reading. Asked by a headteacher to come and introduce the art of storytelling to her primary teachers, many of them said they already told stories to their children; but when I investigated further, what they meant was that they read stories to their children. They set their book up on a stand so the kids could see the pictures and the teacher reads the text.

Now don't get me wrong. I love reading and I'm a strong advocate of introducing books to children and encouraging them to read.

But for this teacher--and I suspect for many--reading was an excuse for not telling. When I suggested to this particular teacher that she could do both, she admitted that she was nervous about "performing" for the children. She confessed that she felt more comfortable relying on the book and besides, she added, it gives something for the children to look at.

However, after working with her for a hour and giving her some tips on telling, she sat down in front of the class and told them a story. When she finished, the class showed their appreciation with wild applause. Still nervous, the teacher said, "But wouldn't you rather I read you a story?"

"NO!" they shouted unanimously.

"Why?" the teacher asked.

One little girl raised her hand and said, "Because you look at us when you tell us a story." Another boy added, "You looked right at me when you told how Jack climbed the beanstalk and it made me feel important."

I didn't need to tell her why oral storytelling is important. Her children did that job for me. Storytelling connects teller and audience. That eye to eye contact is so important in developing a child's self-esteem and confidence. Needless to say, that teacher now uses both reading and storytelling to teach and entertain her children.

I admit I've perhaps strayed from my topic of "Reading" and used it as an excuse to promote story-telling, but tomorrow I'll use "Story-telling" to say something more about reading.

In the meantime, if you have any comments or reflections on reading and oral storytelling in your life and work, I'd love to read them. Feel free to use the comment box below. Until tomorrow, may all your once upon a times end happily ever after.

Note: Waldorf Schools are great advocates of the art of storytelling in the classroom. As a courtesy for using the above photo, I'm providing the link to the Maple Village school so you can learn more about the education they offer -- https://maplevillage.wordpress.com/about/

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"We have received only very positive reports of your workshop, and must thank you for being so flexible and responsive both before and in the course of implementing the workshop. It has been lovely to work with you. . . . We are hopeful this project will give rise to future storytelling endeavours, and would be very happy to work with you again if the opportunity arises!" Muireann Crowley, At Home in Scotland, University of Edinburgh, May 2014 ("Storytelling, Research and Public Engagement" workshop)

Michael Williams is a a storyteller of compelling skill. He is also a fine human being who engages in all situations and draws people into the warmth of communication and shared experience." Donald Smith, Director, Scottish Storytelling Centre, Edinburgh Scotland

"Michael's understanding of storytelling within a leadership and business context has helped us provide a great service in helping leaders determine their personal and organisational destiny and legacy. Working with Michael is inspiring and fun; and pulls you to be fully engaged from start to finish." Norton Bertram-Smith, Managing Director and Leadership Consultant for On Purpose.

Kamink: the little boy who grew into a giant of a man

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