What shapes us

My grandfather was a self-confessed mischief-maker, but I would challenge this label and suggest that in his later years he was a merry-maker. I think this is characteristic of his natural tendency to find ‘trouble’ but always with the best of intentions. After he retired to a life of ‘going bush’ by day for reasons of sentimentality, but coming back to town nightly to have a ‘well-earned’ beverage under the shade of a back-yard monster of a tree, his mischievousness waned but could always be coaxed out with the plea of a ‘tell us another story Pop’. ‘Pop’ was essentially a storyteller, and his mischievous youth provided most of the fodder. So, I started to question whether at the heart of every relationship are the ‘stories’ and the ability to tell a story was the key to communicating with more than words, but with heart. I say this because my connection to this man, my love for him, ran very deep. I was totally enthralled by his ‘presence’. And at the centre of his presence were his stories.
Storytelling has been said to be an ‘art’. Or one in the midst of telling a story is said to be ‘crafting’ their story. I question this ‘art and craft’ definition. I think if we elevate storytelling to this position we risk having children believe they can be and are storytellers from the minute they open their mouths. In making the the notion of storytelling less ‘superhuman’ and more about the everyday we seize the opportunity to instil a self-believe in our storytellers of the future. And we definitely need to develop these skills in young people today. The current generation of children are undoubtedly inwardly focused on the device in front of them. By encouraging a BYOD or 1:1 laptop learning environment we have created a situation and predominance of communication via a screen. As educators (and parents are the primary educator in a child’s life) we need to model and value telling stories. Some of us have been lucky enough to know someone, possibly ‘The Storyteller’ of our family, maybe another significant adult in our lives, but that person was able to engage us through the simple use of words and story. We need to continue to do this ourselves and open the door to the beauty and promise that comes with telling a story to another person. This isn’t a gift, it’s not Art, nor is it craft… It’s life.

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