Wednesday, 18 March 2015

A day of storytelling discovery

Today, I've been fortunate enough to have attended the first day of two days of storytelling training at my local library, led by the wonderful Katrice Horsely, storytelling laureate.

(Katrice is both a fabulous storyteller - you can see her telling the story of the Three Little Pigs in her own quirky style here - and a wonderful motivating speaker.)

Now I consider myself to be a storyteller - I am quite comfortable with that title. I am an author after all and authors tell stories, so of course I'd say I'm a storyteller.

See? I'm telling a story...I'm a storyteller.

Um. No.

I have made several discoveries today which make me question not only what I thought I knew about my approach to and use of storytelling, but about me as a person.

Let me explain;

1. I discovered that I had never considered the power of storytelling and the impact it can have on people - because of their own life experiences - when they hear the stories I choose to tell.

2. I discovered that I am probably a mix of several different learning types; I'm a fiddler (not the four-string variety) which means I'm probably tactical and I am also audio (rely on hearing things). To be honest, I recognised bits that work for me from all the learning types, but those two jumped out at me as being the main ones. This means that my natural storytelling veers towards these learning styles - and misses the others out! Which subsequently prevents a good proportion of my listeners from engaging.

3.  I discovered how much of an impact talking to young children has on their future development and language abilities - by which, I don't just mean the spoken word. We're also talking sign language (which is good, because my daughter was a late speaker and we used baby sign language with her for a while) and body language too. The art of conversation may not yet be dead, but it is severely stunted - and it's having an effect on our children and our society.

4.  I discovered how much I feel sympathy for people who are feeling uncomfortable and out of their comfort zone - and how much the consequences of me trying to protect them or stand up for them affects me.

5.  I discovered how uncomfortable I am telling stories without a pen in my hand. I was SO out of my comfort zone trying to make up a story with nothing but props. "But Katherine, you do use props!" I can hear some of you shouting! "You're always using props and pictures as prompts!" Correct - they are prompts, not integral to the physical storytelling. I don't use a piece of fabric and turn it into a mole...or a piece of net and a feather to make a fish...or make a grumpy octopus out of a scourer pad and pipecleaners...  Maybe this is a good thing to discover, because I will need to get over this unease in order to encourage and enthuse those who prefer not to physically write their stories...

6.  I discovered that everyone has their own letter 'A' and will therefore take different things away from the same story. So I have to find a way of helping others to see their version of the letter in what I present, not just my version. Which sort of links in to number two I suppose.

7.  I discovered that PLL (Post Lunch Lethargy) can be overcome with a story that involves everyone.

8.  And I discovered that every skill I need to be the person I am destined to become lies within me - I just need to see it and believe it.

And that's just from day one... Of course I've learnt other stuff as well, (the patented 12 Step Story for example, which you'd have to see Katrice model to appreciate fully) but these are the real light-bulb moments that have settled deep within 'Katherine the storyteller'.

From here on in, it's about trying to overcome my predisposition for certain teaching styles because of my own learning preferences, and trying to feel more comfortable without a pen in my hand...

Roll on Friday and Day Two.

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