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Settle Stories on why telling tales in the classroom is great for kids

PUBLISHED: 00:00 12 March 2015

Pupils from Merlin Top Primary in Keighley are entranced by storyteller Sita Brand

Pupils from Merlin Top Primary in Keighley are entranced by storyteller Sita Brand

Copyright: Tony Crossland Photography

Storytelling is an invitation that has been open and accepted since the beginning of time.

When Goldilocks enters the bears’ house or Jack climbs the beanstalk, you are invited into another world, one that echoes our own but is far more exciting. The process of storytelling sheds light onto how the world works and shapes morality within society. After a story, you might find yourself acting differently or making new decisions. This is the power of storytelling.

When the latest school curriculum was announced, storytellers and story lovers were in uproar as it saw the removal of the spoken language strand from English.

Former director of OFSTED Sir Jim Rose stated that children need ‘a rich curriculum that fosters all four interdependent strands of language: speaking, listening, reading and writing. The indications are that far more attention needs to be given, right from the start, to promoting speaking and listening skills.’

Professor Tanya Byron agreed, adding: ‘Speaking and listening are the foundations of social and emotional development as well as preparation for future learning. We learn to talk and communicate by imitation, so parents must be supported to encourage their child’s language development.’

We believe that storytellers improve literacy in schools. Storytelling offers an interactive, engaging method for developing rich and verbose language.

Children who fill up with stories by listening and retelling create an inner store of language which itself enables them to be creative, to express themselves and communicate effectively. Children who use language confidently can achieve great things as adults. They can share their knowledge and inspire people into action.

The magic and power of storytelling can change lives. Stories are more than literacy – more than ticking boxes – and nobody has the power to remove the human instinct and need to tell and share stories. Thought about creatively, storytelling can be used as the perfect way to meet the needs of the curriculum now.

Storytelling in general education can be used as a core skill for learning and sequencing ideas. It is a way of developing confidence in speaking and giving presentations; a way of learning to listen and strengthen empathy. These skills are all cross curricular. They are life skills

Storytelling can be used to teach maths and science; you name it – storytelling can do it. This is why we’re having new conversations with storytellers about how we can work together in schools. But that’s a story for another time.

For now, let’s just remember that storytelling in schools is just as relevant today as it ever has been. Stories can never be cut out of anything human. It goes against our nature.

Settle Stories is a charity founded by storyteller Sita Brand to increase understanding between cultures and provide access to Yorkshire stories and heritage. For more information, visit settlestories.org.uk.

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