Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Posts Tagged ‘Philippa Pearce Memorial Lecture’

Storytelling Starters ~ Pure pleasure

Saturday, September 13th, 2014

‘Pleasure is a really profound form of attention.’ This thought-provoking remark was made this last Thursday in a lecture by Frank Cottrell Boyce. Award-winning children’s book author, co-creator of the Opening Ceremony of the London Olympics, Professor of Reading at Liverpool Hope University, he was delivering this year’s Philippa Pearce Memorial Lecture.

Magic door croppedWide-ranging and enormously funny, Frank’s lecture –  Homerton College, Cambridge was the venue – focussed on what can happen when we listen to something being read to us. How it draws us in. How it makes us expectant. How a reason it can affect us so much is that it doesn’t oblige us to do anything else. It doesn’t require us to speak or answer or write – nothing at all except take it in. As Frank said, it’s a profound form of attention, and that can be a most profound pleasure.

And what can ruin it? Make us freeze up or only partly respond? As the audience to the lecture was offered a list of what can only be described as enemies to real attention, we all sighed in recognition. Being told in advance that we’d be asked questions about what we’ve heard? Dreading that we’d be expected to write something creative in immediate response? Or even not being given enough of the reading in the first place?

One great effect of Frank’s lecture for me – and it was full of told stories, his own personal stories about his grandmother and her room full of ticking clocks, his grandfather who was born with a caul round his head, the children and the youths that he’s met – was that it made me feel the deep kinship between what he described as the effects of reading and what I know as the effects of storytelling. They are so much the same: it’s the enormous power of story (good story) to move, awaken and deeply educate.

Enough said. Except it does have to be said again and again, more clearly and in ever more places where, especially in education today, there is so little recognition of its truth. How many times have teachers said to me, ‘We don’t have time for stories in our school’? How many times have parents said, ‘I’d forgotten about all this kind of thing’? (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ A Fresh Look

Saturday, September 7th, 2013

This is an excellent time of the year to take a fresh look at oral storytelling and what it has to offer. About now, Year 7s in Secondary School are usually getting going on some kind of getting-to-know-you project. Who are you? Who am I? It’s part of familiarisation, becoming acquainted and establishing new bonds in a new form and a new school. At the other end of the spectrum, very small children are taking their first steps into education. Attending Nursery School for the first time, they are hearing strange voices, learning new routines, getting used to being with lots of other children.

At this point, I urge teachers and childcare workers across the age-range to consider how told stories engage our attention whatever our age and circumstances. Told stories are when you sit up and take notice. Someone is speaking directly to you – and it’s not to give instructions or obviously to teach you new things. It’s to tell you something that might interest you as another human being.

Sources of information

Plenty of information about oral storytelling is available here on the Internet, on storytellers’ websites and on Youtube, as well as in books, on storytelling courses and in storytelling clubs and even in back numbers of this Blog. Picking up on the art and the craft of storytelling can open new doors for the teller and the hearers. (more…)