Can you tell a good Story?

The practice of telling stories and listening to stories is slowly disappearing from our life and society. Why do I say slowly? If we see around, we can conclude that it is getting lost at a faster pace than ever before. A pace that will make us story-less very soon. It is said that a society which does not have stories to share has no hope. How true! And definitely that society is poor which does not have stories to be told. Stories to be told to the children, stories being shared among the peers and stories for the Adults. Stories are the epitome of the culture of a society.

The researches unfortunately confirms this phenomena, across the world. They say that the story telling process has come down drastically in different parts of the world. It further adds that the more advanced the development, the lesser the story and the storytelling processes. Compared to the stories that our parents knew, the stories that we know are alarmingly fewer. Not like the earlier days, when you had to only tell a story, today we have multiple modes of telling stories, the possibility of capturing and documenting the stories to be re-told (replayed) is enormous. The way we can communicate to other communities and far geographies is very vast. Taking these things in to account, today the society should have been bombarded with and full of stories. But, alas! As these gadgets and possibilities have multiplied, the stories and the process of telling stories have alarmingly dwindled.

Has the speaking come down? No! it is not the speaking, but the storytelling that has come down. People speak a lot. They speak unnecessarily, unwanted and often speak senselessly. People speak and bore others. So storytelling is not just speaking, not just saying something. There is a magic in storytelling. The magic that unfolds in front of the storyteller and the magic that unfolds inside the mind of the listener. There is a lot that goes into this simplest, oldest and natural process of communication and education.

Why is storytelling such a powerful and effective process? Because anything and everything can be transmitted through the act of storytelling. Basic facts, instructions, skills, ideas, concepts, perspectives, attitudes, feelings, emotions – any of these and all of these can be communicated through a story. More important is the aspect that listening to stories can trigger such a lot of things in a listener’s mind and heart. Listening to a story can develop imaginations, mental images, develop thoughts, concepts, emotions and feelings.

With a story you can touch an individual, or a group or a community or a mass. A story can travel across the globe. Stories can transcend any barriers. It can be passed across generations. It can be contextualized and made relevant to different audience. The content of a story can be tweeted; the form can be changed. Creativity is the base of any storytelling process. Across the globe, All the performances are basically forms of expression; a majority of them being forms of storytelling. Knowing all these aspects of storytelling why is it that this powerful medium has lost its importance in our life today? Is it because of our life style? Is it because of our work situation? Whatever it may be, we will have to make a sincere effort to bring back storytelling in our life.

What can be done? We need to start with children. We have to take time and start telling stories to our children. We will have to make space and time, be it in the morning or evening, during weekends or holidays, we will have to keep time for storytelling. We need to cultivate the habit of telling stories to our children; to each child. This is a great opportunity of bonding with our child. Developing solid relationship with our child. Each one of us should tell stories to our children and also to other children. We should be able to tell stories to any child! Individually, in groups, and to the mass. At home, at school, on the streets, and at any other places. For this we will have to listen to stories from others. Read stories from books, exchange stories. This is only one part. The other part is to listen to the child’s story. We rarely listen and a child needs quality listening. We listen to our child while doing other things. Multitasking! This is no listening and the child very well knows this! Child observes it and begs our attention. If we do not listen, we are not sensitive; the child loses interest and stops telling us her story and thus communication. Hence, developing a culture of storytelling is of paramount importance to the child’s growth, and wellbeing. In schools, we should have story telling space – formal and informal. Not competitions, non-threatening, fearless and enjoyable spaces. We need to develop a culture of storytelling in schools. We need to create these spaces for teachers and parents too.

We need to restart this process of storytelling for children and create spaces and a culture of storytelling for teenagers, young, adults and the elderly people. I remember my grandfather telling me about the king’s losing the war and in that hopeless situation an old woman saves the situation by starting a story… a story of hope!

 

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