Storytelling

Written by Vasu Majety

“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”

~ Albert Einstein

Storytelling is one of the most ancient arts of engaging an audience – a child who refuses to fall asleep, a nagging mother-in-law, a tough nut corporate client — everyone loves a good story.

Storytelling is an art; it is an art mastered by mothers, teachers, and politicians and such.Any lesson taught through a narrative will be driven home more quickly and precisely than if taught through numbers and facts.

Human beings from time immemorial are drawn to stories…stories their grandparents told them from the time they did not learn vocabulary, to stories that their grandchildren tell them now about the modern world.

Stories sell faster than deals. The entire marketing world bases their craft on how well a story is told.

Children pay more attention to the lesson if it is told as a narrative than if plain facts are dished out without any twist. Introducing a narrative is what distinguishes a good teacher from an also-ran teacher. Storytelling often needs the teller to assume the roles of the characters of the plot. She becomes the hero, the villain and the victim. She changes her tone, her pose and her voice as required by the story and engages the audience’s attention closely. She can reduce the plight of the victim to a negligible extent by comparing it to someone else’s plight if she so wishes. She can highlight the qualities of the villain and reduce the protagonist to an accidental hero at will — and all without changing the plot of the story! A good storyteller also introduces a flavor of her own to an already known story ending.

Storytelling is the frontline skill in the repertoire of a teacher. When the teacher notices a child blinking her eyes for a tiny bit longer, or an infectious yawn taking shape for the first time after the lesson is started, this is the time for that fascinating story — the one they have not heard before, or the twist they had never heard in the familiar story, or a detail that was never part of it. There is no limit to the number of possibilities a good storyteller can come up with to hold the attention of her audience.

Children love stories and they love the storyteller, too. They feel closer to the teacher when she teaches the lesson in a narrative. Storytelling is a good way to inculcate values in children. The truth of honesty, discipline and good manners is brought to light much stronger and remembered for a longer time when told in a narrative. Yes, it is imperative that the aim of the lesson is not compromised in the euphoria of making it interesting by introducing a story. Also, a story should not dilute the respect the teacher receives from the students. A careful and delicate balance between making the lesson interesting by a masterly crafted story and losing the “forest for the trees” (or the aim of the lesson), makes storytelling an interesting craft from the context of a school setting.

At Viviktha, all teachers are trained in the art of storytelling as part of their training program. Viviktha is closely engaged with the storytelling association of Hyderabad and other such communities. Their teachers attend sessions and workshops, sharpening their skills at holding the attention of a diverse audience and bringing the intelligence to their classes. Tell children stories; they will love it!

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