All human stories are stories of Divinity. So many of the founders of the religions of mankind told great stories or parables, or enacted great deeds, the telling of which captures the mind, heart and spirit. Storytelling is a foundation of all religious eduction.
Story Telling Seminar for volunteer religious instructors in Victoria
Religions for Peace offered two free seminars early in September 2011 for volunteers in Victoria. Our presenter was the gifted Julie Perrin who is known nationally and internationally for her skills both as a story teller and a multicultural teacher. To find out more about her, go to www.tellingwords.com.au
The participants in each seminar were an interesting mix of the young and the not-so-young, Buddhist, Orthodox Christian, Baha’i, one Catholic and one Uniting Church protestant. Some were born in Australia, some overseas, but the differences quickly became irrelevant as Julie put us to work We were given five very short stories, including a Jewish story, a Japanese Zen story and a Chinese folk tale, and asked to choose one. Julie gave us a few guidelines, and then we started to work in small groups.
How can you remember a story? Why is it so easy to forget the ‘punch line’ even when the story consists of only four written lines? Do you have to remember it word for word? How can you sound spontaneous when you are so concerned to do it well? One of the strategies Julie gave us for remembering the story was to use paper footprints, and associate each stage of the story with another step. So around the space were groups of eager students coaching each other with a mixture of laughter and rapt silence.
In the final notes Julie gave us she suggested using Peer Collaborators
Arrange with a trusted colleague to give you feedback. You may want to practice with them and then ask them to come when you are telling to a group. De-brief with them afterwards, though not necessarily immediately. This was very much how we worked on the day. The small teams rapidly developed the level of trust needed, and found this an empowering experience.
After a delicious lunch supplied by the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre Catering organisation, we dealt with practical classroom questions. How do you gain attention? How do you deal with interruptions? And how do you bring your story to an end? A possible opening or closing ritual is by the use of a small percussive instrument – and Julie brought along some fascinating examples which we experimented with.
Feed back at the end of the day was rapturous.
Very useful! Never thought of using the story-telling techniques learnt to day and I’m sure it’ll be very beneficial for classroom teaching.
A wonderful tool to have in any type of teaching – an inspiring experience.
Julie Perrin – a delightful engaging presenter.
Next year we will present another seminar – topic to be decided.