Storytelling Schools Series, Volume II
Chris Smith, Ph.D.
Inside spiral bound
In England, a group of innovative educators created the idea of Storytelling Schools, primary schools where storytelling is the key way that children learn. By which is not meant only learning to listen to stories, but to actually learn the stories by heart, learn to retell them, learn how to adapt and change them, and finally learn to reassemble different elements from different stories as an entirely new story.
In the course of all this, these children find sure footing in language skills, organizing their thoughts, clear communication, and develop not only the self confidence that comes from really truly learning something, but they also learn the foundations of learning and thinking themselves.
Over a period of ten years, Storytelling Schools throughout Great Britain have become a revolutionary way of delivering primary education. In a storytelling school retelling and improving stories from memory is a way of learning both language and subject content across the curriculum. Children graduate with a repertoire of their own stories to tell. This approach has been shown to raise standards and fire imaginations in schools throughout the UK, and it can do the same for any children you teach.
147 Traditional Stories for Primary School Children to Retell was written and compiled as a comprehensive reference for teachers in search of stories to teach their class. The stories range from very simple tales for first graders all the way to long, complex stories for students in Grade 6. Altogether, the collection is rich and masterful.
Included here is an introduction that gives concise and meaningful guidance for using these stories to teach students the art of storytelling. Additionally, the Introduction is simply inspiring: any teacher reading it will find him- or herself energized and empowered to carry out this approach to education itself.
Personally, I think that this method is a ‘next step’ that would enhance and focus Waldorf education for the modern world. I can’t think of a better addition to Steiner’s curriculum than incorporating this active element into it. When children are taught to do what the see and admire adults doing, they are drawn away from media-centric, advertising-ridden elements in our culture and toward wholesome creativity and confidence-of-place in the world. In short, children become too interested and too busy with the joy of what they learn to feel much like bothering with something less. The invention of Storytelling Schools was an act of educational brilliance – I only hope that they and their impulse continue to thrive and that teachers everywhere in in every sort of school incorporate this method into their classes.
Recommended without reservation and with much hope!