Changing Minds Through Storytelling

Educators have long known that children learn best through storytelling. Storytelling has the ability to transfer knowledge and elicit emotions from the listener compared to watching videos where children just sit idly in front of a screen.

As a child listens to the story, he is able to ask questions and interact with the storyteller. The child is also given the opportunity to imagine and explore possibilities based on the stories read. As a learning tool, storytelling is able to encourage students to think and imagine beyond what is presented.

Famous author Nick Hornby recognizes the importance of storytelling to inspire children. Hornby, together with two others, founded the Ministry of Stories in 2010 to “to inspire a nation of storytellers” in Britain.

The group works closely with schools and teachers to provide one-on-one mentoring for young people. The objective is for the students to enjoy “imaginative stories, improve language skills, increase abilities in communication, add to social and educational confidence.”

“It’s not just about stories either: we get excited by all forms of writing, from song lyrics to play scripts, screenplays to journalism, blogging to games, and poems to graphic novels,” says Hornby in his blog.

A storytelling initiative is also being done by The W.H.Y Project in the US. The aim of the project is to “empower an emerging generation through art and storytelling to create change in their communities, as well as their own lives.”

By hashtagging a participant’s image with #WeHearYouSF or #WHYTB, the person is able to express visually his hopes, dreams, fears, and anxieties. Social media is being used here as a tool to learn and develop important skills for creative expression.


Storytelling for the underprivileged

Similar efforts to promote storytelling are also being done in the country. The Story Telling Project (TSP) aims to promote a love for reading among Filipino children. The group provides storybooks and storytelling workshops, builds libraries, and encourages children to express themselves through creative writing.

Super Labandera is a story written by 13-year-old Jim Mark Carolino about a laundry woman with special powers and weapons—a laundry brush, tub, and “palo-palo.” Jim Mark joined a TSP workshop in Pugaro District in Dagupan, a city in Pangasinan province.

Super Labandera was launched by TSP last year together with the book, Uligmaya. Uligmaya is a story retold by another workshop participant, Aprille Joy of Mountain Province.

Project Banig is a storytelling and book-giving literacy project started by storyteller, theatre-maker JK Anicoche and children’s literature writer Christine Bellen. The name Project Banig: Latag. Buklat. Kuwento. pretty well describes what happens in the storytelling sessions--participants share stories while relaxing on the banig, they open books to read, and share insights and knowledge with each other. According to the group, “the project aims to document existing forms or ways of storytelling in different communities, and to develop new ways, new paradigms in storytelling.”

We are a nation of storytellers. Our history was passed on not through the written word but through stories retold by our ancestors.

We as a people are creative. And whatever economic background, children should be given the platform to communicate their thoughts and emotions. Children should be given the opportunity to develop their verbal skills and use their imaginations to create and accomplish their dreams.

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