Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Posts Tagged ‘birds’

Storytelling Starters ~ Learning to fly

Saturday, June 2nd, 2018

What is it about doing something new that you’ve never done before? The nerves? Worry that you’ll mess it up? Thursday morning I was to do an interview on Skype with Kathy Brodie who runs and presents Early Years TV. I’d not heard either of her or Early Years TV until a recent email relating to the promotion of my new book.

Early Years TV offers a weekly interview done by Kathy with all kinds of people who do early years work. When I got in touch with her after the email from my indefatigable Marketing Manager at Jessica Kingsley Publishers, Kathy said yes to my being one of her interviewees. It would be an interview about storytelling and it would happen via Skype at a mutually convenient date and time, the resulting video to appear on Early Years TV at some as yet to be scheduled date in the future. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Storytelling in Education

Saturday, November 3rd, 2012

This week in Wales, the big feature of my morning walks has been the flocks of birds whirling round the sky, wings whirring as they go over my head. Right now, a whole lot of them are perched in the tree behind the house. They chatter ceaselessly in some kind of group talk. ‘It’s getting colder,’ I think they’re saying. ‘Soon it will be time to go. Remember the age-old way.’

The excitement is palpable. So too is the purpose. I wish I could send them right now to all those places where school curriculum is decided. The message would be: ‘Please pause awhile in your deliberations and consider the place of story in children’s lives. In particular, take a look at the potential of the told story and require teachers to give room for it in schools and also learn how to do it themselves if they don’t already know.’

Comment from Hilary Minns:

Hilary Minns teaches storytelling at Warwick University. As a guest storyteller, I’ve visited the courses she runs over a number of years and on each occasion it has been abundantly evident how all her students love her and how keen they have become to follow her example. She is an inspiring storyteller and an inspirational teacher. The Comment she sent in to my Blog on Principles and Practice is an important contribution to the evidence I’m starting to gather on Storytelling in Education. 

Hilary’s comments matter. She began working life as an infant teacher, later moved on to teach 7 and 8 year olds, then became headmistress of an Infant School in Coventry. She is also the author of the influential book: Read It To Me which followed the reading lives of five young Coventry children. One part of her Comment relates how she herself began telling stories. It was while she was on teaching practice. She ‘wanted to share some Hans Andersen stories with my class of 6 year olds, but the stories were too difficult and too long to read aloud, so I adapted them and told them orally with the help of pictures I drew on the blackboard.’

Flexibility … imagination … belief in the power of story … the determination to share the sources of your own inspiration: I think these are all vital qualities for teachers to have and I read them all in what Hilary says. How many times have teachers said to me after a storytelling session when they’ve seen how children have sat up and listened and participated: ‘This is why I came into teaching. Why did I stop doing this kind of thing?’

One child’s response

Hilary’s comments include a short description of one child’s response to a John Burningham story. ‘ “Mr Gumpy shouldn’t have let them all in the boat,” says four-year-old Anthony as he looks at Mr Gumpy’s Outing and sees everyone falling into the river. That bit about “shouldn’t let them all in” isn’t in the story. John Burningham would never pass judgement on his characters. But Anthony has engaged with the story and responded in his own way.’

Anthony’s is the kind of freely-offered insight teachers love to hear. It’s a frequent experience when time and importance are given to stories. So isn’t it terrible to hear what Hilary also says in her Comment: ‘The students who take my module Stories and Storytelling at Warwick University often tell me that stories are given a low priority in their schools; in particular, those who work with KS2 children sometimes report that there is no longer any time for personal storytelling, the telling of traditional stories or even stories taken from beautiful picture books.’

No time for stories

More Primary School teachers than I could count have said the same thing to me: ‘There’s no time for stories in our school.’ To me, this is as lamentable as failing to give children decent food. It’s like feeding them only on turkey twizzlers, leaving out the healthy stuff. (more…)