Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Posts Tagged ‘National Curriculum’

Storytelling Starters ~ Principles and Practice

Saturday, October 13th, 2012

It’s been a good week for thinking. There have been some lovely Autumn colours and I’ve been diverted from the new series I’d planned.

When I made the suggestion last Saturday that future BASE awards should include some that relate to storytelling in education, I started a hare in my own train of thought. Three comments that arrived in the course of the week have made me pursue it.

The proposed new English curriculum:

The comment from Mary – see below – notes that a stated intention of the proposed new English curriculum is that young people should learn to be confident speakers. I thoroughly agree with Mary’s feeling that we should all be celebrating this and finding out more about it. I also think she’s right to suspect that it probably means being able to give a speech and talk well at job interviews rather than storytelling – storytelling  no longer being on the agenda:

Storytelling in schools in decline:

The second comment from Jean notes how, in her own recent experience as a storyteller, longer and more substantial storytelling projects in schools have become so thin on the ground as to be just about non-existent. Even one-off day visits to schools have declined. The third comment from Liz says she is thinking of approaching local schools to see if she can go in to do stories with the children. Her inspiration is based on the belief that children need stories.  

So where are we headed?

Back in the 1980s the National Oracy Project pushed forward a huge new awareness of the value of the oral in education. I know from my own involvement how much exciting pioneering work was done at the time. The positive results were  just beginning to be disseminated when they were swamped by the sudden introduction of the National Curriculum. Gradually over succeeding years storytelling began making a comeback in schools. By the first decade of this century, there was a great deal going on. My own work gave me abundant evidence of how much , including in Early Years work, work with ESL children and the training of teachers.

But what is happening now? Over the last ten or fifteen years, a big expansion has taken place in what is now usually described as ‘performance storytelling’. Storytelling clubs for adults, festivals of storytelling, storytelling evenings – all these have mushroomed. And that’s great for everyone. After all, many storytellers who work in schools and community situations also do performance work. However, I do feel it’s time to think hard and aloud about the implications of this development, especially now that ‘celebrity’ has become so phenomenally important in the world around us. Is storytelling going to become largely a celebrity art? Does the performance side mean that less attention (and less support) will be given to the less visible kinds of storytelling work that take place in schools?

Some responses from me:

Here are a few of the ideas I’ve had while pursuing that hare in my own train of thought. Please do add to these or comment upon them as you see fit. (more…)