Builds Self-Esteem & Community Among Students

In our ancestors’ villages, storytelling happened in small, informal groups of people who knew each other -- and often already knew the stories. Adults swapped yarns while they worked An older child entertained young neighbors. A village elder instructed children and adults alike through story. The tales they told were important. The relationships between the people were at least as important. Stage “performance” was not important at all.

These traditions are my models for “village” storytelling. Most people rarely need to perform on stage, and have a desperate fear of public speaking. I have found, in years of training adults and young folks as storytellers, that they learn easier and faster when we work in a small-group format, sitting down with a circle of listeners. We recreate the traditional setting for storytelling in our ancestors’ villages.

Under these circumstances, even reluctant tellers relax and find their storytelling voices. The intimacy and informality inspire fanciful flights of intonation and gesture. Self-esteem blossoms in these exercises, as students discover skills they didn’t dream they possess. The self-esteem is further enhanced by rewards of genuine, earned admiration (adoration!) from younger listeners, who beg for more stories. As in our ancestors’ villages, children of different ages get to know one another. A warm community spirit is fostered, and can be further developed by other activities where the older and younger “Buddy” classes work together.

  NOTE: ''The long-term benefits to students depend on long-term follow-through. This workshop can begin the process, by modelling a variety of storytelling styles and by showing teachers how to go about learning to tell stories.

But the benefits of self-esteem and community can only grow from continued practice and the sharing of stories with younger students.''