Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Posts Tagged ‘group work’

Storytelling Starters ~ To inspire

Saturday, May 18th, 2013

The essential point of any storytelling workshop or course is to inspire and impart – not to disempower. Participants can be enthused in different ways and with diverse outcomes. They may become tellers of stories in their family lives. They may start telling, making and hearing stories with people they work with. They may even conceive the ambition to develop themselves as professional or semi-professional storytellers.

Palpable excitement

On Wednesday and Thursday this week, I felt particularly conscious of this multi-faceted effect. On Wednesday, I was at Warwick University doing one of my annual sessions with students on Hilary Minns’ storytelling module for people working with children. Thursday was the final session of my Kensington Palace course for parents. Both times, I felt the palpable excitement of people who have already started to experience the effects of their storytelling on children. And not only children. One Kensington Palace mother read us a story she’d written during the week. Beautifully written it was too. During the course, she told us, she felt she’d discovered a new facility for writing. She reported how affected her husband had been by this.

New skills, new confidence, new powers of invention: the KensingtonPalace crowd will, I feel sure, go on to great things. Already they are well into planning storytelling clubs for the children in the schools their children attend. I have offered my help in getting these going.

As for the Warwick University students, they’ll soon be planning and writing their end-of-course dissertations. In doing this, they will be using and recording their own new awareness of the effects of stories on children.

Leading workshops – a particular skill

But it’s an important point to make: leading workshops in such a way as to produce these effects is a particular skill of its own. I know I’m good at it (I should be by now!) and of course I know it’s not the only way of working as a storyteller. (I love the other ways, too.) But it does require a particular set of qualities – knowing how to put participants at their ease; activities that can involve all in the group, including the shyest; a storytelling style that does not show itself off but encourages people to feel they can do it too; a way of working that recognises and develops people’s individual interests, skills and styles. And last but not least, a love of employing and sharing the ‘secrets’ of the storytelling art.

The need today

It’s a tall order. And it represents one of my current concerns about what’s happening with storytelling in education today. Right now, we badly need more storytellers who want to foster this way of working so there can be more parents, more teachers and more childcare workers spreading the joys and wisdoms of storytelling. Is enough happening to fund this kind of development? Are enough people aware of the need? What happens if and when this kind of workshop-running dies out? (more…)