Since the human race began, people have told stories to each other, to pass on family lore, values and beliefs, common history and heritage, to teach factual and conceptual information, to entertain, and to form bonds of friendship. Amidst the bustle of our visuallyoriented, technologically-enhanced, multitasking, competitive world where we share information through text messaging, sound bytes, cell phones, and disks that we burn, we need to be reminded of our humanity. We pride ourselves as a nation of doers, but more and more we find ourselves in the position of observers as we watch others perform in movies, in rock concerts, or on television.
Storytelling helps students be active not only in presenting but also in focused listening and reacting, enhancing the vital skills of communication. Storytelling is an ancient art that strengthens and enhances skills that children need to acquire to function in today’s world. As adults, we work in groups, sharing ideas and building upon them. Students practice the same skills, often working collaboratively in cooperative groups. In all academic areas, storytelling enlivens the delivery of curriculum, accelerates and enhances curriculum learning, and engages learners. It encourages students to think about issues, and it can also deliver emotional and factual content beyond a child’s vocabulary or reading ability. Storytelling helps students stretch and expand their thinking. Each state has learning standards that are supported by storytelling and storylistening. We know that storytelling produces enthusiastic and engaged learners; furthermore, qualitative and quantitative research studies show that storytelling can improve academic performance. Through storytelling:
Storytelling is an art, a tool, a device, a gateway to the past and a portal to the future that supports the present. Our true voices come alive when we share stories. Members of the YES! Alliance, along with other members of our parent organization, the National Storytelling Network, will continue to bring love of story, the excitement of storytelling and the practicalities of using storytelling in education, in classrooms and in community work, to our fellow educators.
This statement was prepared by the Youth, Educators and Storytellers Alliance of the National Storytelling Network. To learn more about the activities and resources of the YES! Alliance, please visit our website at www.yesalliance.com.