It’s not that easy to tell a story well and especially not when it’s a long one. It needs a certain ability to keep children engaged while they are listening to words with no other props to hold their attention. Presenting a story well is an ability that many teachers have, but may find difficult. Story telling, unless you’re a natural and warm to the task, can be hard work. Nevertheless, it is a method of communication that has a special place in the education and development of children. A place that may not always be appreciated to the measure it deserves.
Children are surrounded by many stories these days, mostly on TV or DVD. There is never a shortage of the next tale to look at. The creativity of these productions makes the teacher, who uses words only to describe the scene and development of a plot, pale into insignificance. At least, it seems that way, unless one is aware of the value to be found in a word based approach in story telling against the flashy and shiny presentations of the entertainment industry; unless one realizes, as many people do, that children are quite happy to listen to a story well told. A good story is a wonderful way in which to learn about words and encourages the use of imagination. Neither words nor imagination feature greatly in an exposure to film or animation. There the ideas surrounding the story have all been unpacked and are presented ready-made. The children are taken up more with dazzle than with the depth that language and imagination can invoke.
Teachers are well aware of the importance of language in the development of a child. Therefore, they would be on the look-out for teaching aids towards this continually. However, there may not be that much available, especially not with longer stories. Where are the aids that focus on language without demanding of the teacher to become ‘the great story teller from the sky?’
A good story allows children to get involved with words and imagination. It can also help them in their spirituality – meaning the recognition that as people they are spiritual beings. Story has been greatly used in human history as an introduction to the things beyond. In modern days with many people professing not to prescribe to religion the importance of the spiritual side of life is no less. For instance, might a person’s attitude have a spiritual rather than rational origin? After all, it comes from deep within and often resides well beyond the cognitive processes involved. How about love and hate; where does that come from?
Of course, not every story will lend itself to assisting in the spirituality of children. And if it does, the possible benefits remain mostly hidden unless the story is discussed as to its significance and meaning. Undoubtedly, children are well able to enter into helpful discussion when a story is of suitable quality. The benefits to English learning will depend greatly on the richness of the language used. The idea that children can only handle the simplest of expressions and otherwise will lose the gist of a tale simply isn’t true. Rather, it’s important to expose them to good English, that is descriptive and of a higher quality than the language generally used in conversations between people or on TV.
One may ask where story presentations that fit the above-mentioned criteria can be found.
There is a dearth in significant stories that aren’t produced in film or animation. In which the old story telling approach is used in a modern way. The only story in that category I know of, is the Eloise adventure recently published by Kid-Ebook using multimedia. It is available for teachers in English learning and discussions on life skills.
As an educator at tertiary level Michael Spyker fully appreciates the difficulties faced by teachers in the modern classroom. "Eloise, the Witch and the Wordsmith" can help. Visit the website Kid-Ebook-Stories
and sample the many options.