Storytelling as a Team Sport: Benefits in Social Development

http://www.youthstorytelling.com/toolbox/EncouragingKids.pdf

The above article, written by teacher Carol Krakower, gives a description of the storyteling “team” she runs in her school for grades 6 and up. Being a part of this team, she argues, gives kids the same “gratification” and “status symbol” that being on a sports team does. “It is personally gratifying to achieve a position of honor on your team.” She writes. “Kids know that achievement is earned.”

Her team is divided into “Forensic” and “Varsity” levels. Forensic-level team members build skills and repertoires. Varsity-levelers are given the opportunity to perform outside of school.

“Some people,” she writes, “feel that storytelling should be open to any student without pressure.” She disagrees, posturing that a certain bar must be set for children. If it is never set, they will never reach for it. By creating a “position of honor” which must be “earned,” Krakower seems to assert that children will work harder and ultimately take more pride in their storytelling abilities, as well as their proficiency as performers.

-Walker Staples

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3 Responses to Storytelling as a Team Sport: Benefits in Social Development

  1. I really like this article. I think that it is really interesting that having the kids work for their position makes them more productive as a storyteller. It also makes sense. The memorization aspect of her program is also very important and useful for the kids. Most kids nowadays don’t memorize anything, preferring instead to use Google when they need to find out any information. This creates multiple problems. Because people don’t practice memorization they are not as good at it in the future. In fact new studies show that having constant access to external information actually wires a persons brain in a different way then if that person were to memorize information. Also as said in this article people don’t know what they’re minds are capable of. I think a storytelling program for middle shcoolers is just as valid an education in math or literacy and that this type of program should be implemented in every school.

  2. Hannah Barg says:

    I am interested in the idea of using storytelling as a way to motivate students. On first glance, the idea that not all students should be able to participate in storytelling struck me as wrong, for I do not like the idea of turning storytelling into a competition or into a specific structure. Yet after further thought, it began to make some sense to me. From an educational perspective, some of the most meaningful and insightful moments occur when an educator pushes one outside of one’s comfort zone (in whatever way that may be). By setting a high standard in the storytelling group, the teacher is forcing students to push themselves to learn skills and more about themselves in a way that other subject would not allow. I am not sure if this structure and standard should be maintained for older students, who have had more educational background and life experience, for it could be potentially restricting; yet, I believe that there are other ways to push young storytellers so they reach that same level of learning and insight that the children in this teacher’s class do.

  3. Jake says:

    My feelings in response to this article are mixed. I, personally do not think good things when I think of teams that work in the vein of sports where the motivation is drawn from the competitive nature. I find these things to be more exclusive than inclusive for many people. I am intrigued by this idea of a storytelling team though because it is clearly not about competing or anything of that sort. Instead, it sounds like it is an experience that students come into with an idea of something that they would like to do that they may not otherwise have an opportunity to do (tell stories and learn techniques for doing so). So the motivation is there because they’re interested in the art form. I also appreciate that there is a standard that is set for moving up to the varsity team and being on the team at all because I think that it is always necessary to set a goal for people to reach. I think that in something like storytelling, it can’t be a goal or expectation that has to do with content though-in my opinion it would have to do with growth and continued achievement. At the same time, as a performing art, storytelling experiences rely heavily on the audience to decide if the performance was good. So, as hard as it may be to reach a certain level of proficiency in vocal and physical technique as well as memorization and having a good story, it seems very much worthwhile to have to work towards those things because when the performance comes it seems like it would be much more ideal to feel well prepared and capable and to know that you are and you have already proven it. So in that way, this team seems like a fantastic opportunity for people who may not have had success in other team experiences and for people who want to learn to do something well and dedicate themselves to it to find capabilities and hone them in themselves and have a group of people who are doing the same things with whom they can share struggles and critiques and grow through the sharing and learning and get to points where they know that they are not only able and talented but have proven it with others and that will prepare them for the storytelling events they participate in and many other experiences as well.

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