Magic of Storytelling

Stories as a medium of instruction is something that helps learning to stick to the users. I still remember my geography lesson that was taught to me in school! The topic was how the changes in seasons takes place. Our class, which was famous in the school for wrong reasons for being most notorious, had pin-drop silence in this period. The reason was our teacher – who had created such a captivating story to explain earth’s rotation & revolution.
You might ask ‘Story? In a geography class?’ YES! Story in geography period narrated in the most dramatic and articulate way and done in such captivating manner that the concept was absolutely clear…not only during the school days, but I still have that clarity. Resultantly; the entire class passed with flying colors and all of us used to look forward to our geography class! (which was quite unusual for our class!!)
Decades later when I started teaching; I resorted to the techniques of telling stories to keep my students glued to the topics. Keeping my own learning as the base I organized a trip for my students for Kathakaar. This; I felt; was a unique opportunity whereby my students could get exposed to international story tellers, and to learn from them at various levels. I felt that story telling would work for them as it would help to bring in the human element into the aspect of learning in addition
to the strong narrative that is always at the bottom! I knew that as in contrast to the plain old presentations; stories make us laugh, cry, feel and also relate to the characters. So; the learning comes from experiencing situations through the characters and one begins to identify with them. So, in Kathakaar, not only the narrative was engaging; the children got an exposure to perform as story characters. This helped even the most timid and shy students to shed their inhibitions and perform on stage. Later, I even heard them boasting in front of their friends that they ‘performed on stage’ in front of over 500 people! Now, that I feel is calls for accolades considering that these students barely speak unhesitantly in front of people.
I believe that making a child or for that matter an adult to pick up a book is very difficult; unless one is really into reading (the percentage of which is sadly low in this digital age!). However, telling stories make the children go to books and find more knowledge through these treasure troves. Infact, after the Kathakar event some of my students asked me about the unique song that one of the story tellers was using as a filler in the event. Later, based on this song I was able to teach Tones and Alliteration to them. Not only this; some of the song lines used the poetic device of Onomatopoeia
too. And I conducted one complete session on these aspects based on learnings from Kathkaar event. Believe me with the mid-term exams coming, the clarity that they got about these concepts helped them to score better in their papers too! Not only this; they also had keen interest in other
cultures as some of the story tellers were from Russia & America. They learnt how to greet people in Russian language, and the students greeted the Russian storytellers with Namaste!
I just couldn’t believe that a two hours fun trip to Kathakaar with my students would hep me to connect better with my students and also open up the avenues of learning at multifarious levels. The concept of telling stories could be used effectively in argumentation and essays. These could be used to remember processes, facts and formulas or to connect events with each other. Endless opportunities seem to have opened with just this one event!

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