Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Storytelling Starters ~ Reflections and Moonshine

Well, the BASE awards happened last Saturday and it was all very interesting. I didn’t get the Lifetime Achievement Award – it went to Sheila Stewart, the Scottish Traveller singer/storyteller who has been storytelling for nearly 60 years. But I came away full of reflections. These include the suggestion I shall be making to the BASE organisers, who are keen to develop the awards for the future.  

Storytelling in Education

My suggestion is that there should be some awards for storytelling in education. A teacher-storyteller award? Or one for work with different ages of children or children with disabilities or school-refusers? Or maybe an award for the most enterprising school storytelling project? Or indeed for training teachers in the art.

Storytelling in education is vital. Anyone who has ever done it –  if they know what they are up to and have an appropriate way of working –  knows how much difference it can make. It makes a difference for children and can also transform teachers’ work. The problem now  is to develop support for what should be a national campaign on the subject. It’s a pressing need (especially at this time when the overwhelming emphasis is on targets and exams). How can we make the general public and  the politicians aware of what can be done through taking the more creative approach that storytelling offers?

Is there anyone out there who shares this concern? Please get in touch if you do.

For instance, it would be helpful to know if storytelling in schools has been declining in the recent past. Evidence from my own friends and colleagues suggests  it has – a lot! I’d be interested to know of others’ experience. And it would be good to know if anyone else actually cares abut this.

Next week – after this pause for reflection –  I shall be starting my new series.


Meanwhile, a note on that photo at the top of the page: it’s one of my favourite photos . I took it almost exactly a year ago. It reminds me of that excellent saying: ‘You can take away everything that I have but you can’t take away the moonshine from my window.’

P.S. I’ve also put up a blog posting on awards for storytelling in education on the Early Learning HQ website.  


6 Responses to “Storytelling Starters ~ Reflections and Moonshine”

  1. Mary Steele Says:

    The last I heard ( which was in the summer term) a new English curriculum is proposed which includes a strong oral component. The stated intention is that young people should learn to be confident speakers. I’ve now retired, so I put this on one side, but it did seem to me that this is something storytellers should be shouting about and finding out more. It needs a strong collective response. I suspect that the intended outcomes are ‘being able to give a speech and talk well at job interviews’ rather than storytelling,but I might be too cynical and there will still be some creative schools that want to make something enriching for their children. There has been a lot of talk about poetry, but the place of traditional story in the new curriculum is unknown to me. Anybody with up to date information about developments could share their knowledge to everyone’s advantage.
    Of course there should be an award for contributions to storytelling in education – a body of work, or a project. Proposals could be made and projects visited in the same way as is intended with clubs. It would really raise the status of storytelling in schools if senior managements were made aware of an award being associated with their school and teachers/librarians who want to bring storytelling to their school would be able to say that they are booking award nominated/winning projects.

  2. Jean Says:

    I wholeheartedly agree that storytelling in education is vital Mary. I have worked in many schools as a storyteller sometimes just for a day, but sometimes and wonderfully for a term or two, and usually children and teachers have been astonished at first and then excited at what a difference telling stories can make to how they interact, at how they see themselves and to what they can achieve.
    But this was several years ago and now work in schools is infrequent and usually only for one visit. always enjoyable. but so short.
    I share your concern and wonder what we can do. Thank you for raising this and for your positive and enjoyable blogs. Could awards for storytelling in education help to spotlight this area and support storytelling work in schools. What do you think BASE organisers and good to hear from teachers and children too about their positive experiences with storytelling.

  3. Mary Medlicott Says:

    Mary, your comments are very thought-provoking. I am especially glad you’ve raised the role of librarians with regard to storytelling work in schools. From Eileen Colwell onwards, there have been a good many of you librarians who have yourselves been excellent storytellers. I know this plays an important role in showing children and teachers how exciting it is to hear a told story. But as you indicate librarians also play a vital role in linking schools and libraries. Will this role diminish as libraries suffer cuts in their funding?

  4. Mary Medlicott Says:

    Jean, Thanks so much for your comments. It’s sad and bad to hear of the diminishing of your longer-term projects in schools. I share your belief that they can make a very big difference. One-off visits are better than nothing. But if these are dropping off too, it’s even more worrying. Are your colleagues experiencing a similar diminution? It’s time for us all to speak out about it.

  5. liz richards Says:

    Hi Liz Richards here.I feel that story telling in schools are not done as often as they use to be and I feel that could be because schools are so busy trying to meet targets.
    The most important thing is our future childrens education and hopefully I am going to go round to my local schools and see if they woould welcome me in to read to the children and spend time even to talk about poetry.

  6. Mary Medlicott Says:

    Hi Liz. I agree. I think schools are too busy trying to meet targets – the pressure is intense and the creative things which really inspire children get lost. It’s fantastic that you feel you might see if some local schools might welcome your input. Best of luck with this idea. Let me know how it goes.

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