In the academic year 2016/17, at the Scientific and Technological High school “Righi” of Corsico, (Milan) a project composed by six meetings was realized, mainly through the technic of story telling. Stories have been told in an interactive way and originated a widespread interest and discussion during several meetings held in a first year class. This project aimed at giving the students the possibility of reflecting on themselves, their way of being and behaving, becoming aware of the Values we are carriers of and that make us real Humans. “Who am I, why do I exist, what will my destiny be” are some of the topics discussed. Students took to their heart the mentioned topics and were more than happy to share and compare each other’s existential thoughts. Applauses, which would conclude every activity, were a tangible proof of the need of giving space and voice to one’s own inner dimension.
Sathya Sai gave us the pedagogic and spiritual view of the educational process. The five technics were created so that we could remember that theory and practice should develop together; those are concrete instruments to bring in everyday life the principals of “Educare”.Story telling is one of these technics and can be used in various contexts, equally with adults, teenager and children. Since very old times, story telling was the most efficient method to pass on information and messages. Stories create interests, capture the attention of the audience, stimulate the audience to look for an identification with the characters, develop imagination and empathy. Great Masters would always turn to story telling when it came to awake Values, pass a moral or spiritual teaching or to uplift personal transformation and awareness.Stories can be found in the tales of the folks, in fairy tales, in Sai literature, in sacred or mythological texts or in the life of great people.The message of the stories is particularly effective if, when they are told, participants can identify themselves with the characters presented and if they can use their voice and body in a functional way.It is important for the story to have a follow up, which can be guaranteed in several ways: questions and answers, group activities such as role plays or study circle etc.
AN INTERACTIVE STORY
In the last decades many schools, on national territory as well as around Europe, experimented story telling as an activity which encourages students to reflect on themselves, which guides them to value their potential and their skills and can also raises awareness and make people more successful.Story telling can be structured following five technics: Singing, Storytelling, Concentration and Guided Imagination, Quotations and Group Activity.The five technics applied with a specific emphasis allow students to listen, watch and do all together. If they only listen, they forget; if they watch, they can understand; if they do, they learn.An example of standard lesson according to those technics can be developed as it follows.
- Singing: the lesson starts with a group song, because singing together increases the level of attention and concentration and creates discipline; it also harmonizes the group and prepares it for further work.
- Storytelling: each page of the story is illustrated, put on tracing paper and then projected on a wall. The teacher plays the role of the narrator and asks the students to read and act direct discourses. Students have to give voice to what they see, entering the role of the characters, expressing their personal thoughts and imagining to be in their shoes; they should also relate what happens in the story to their everyday life, bringing real examples and sharing their personal experience. The story is at the basis of the five technics; it is not only a channel through which students’ attention can be captured but it also offers the possibility to students to take part in first person to the activities and having fun solving the enigmas presented in the stories.
- Imaginary Journey: after several pages have been read and acted out, when the interest is high, students set off for an “imaginary journey”. The students close their eyes and after a moment of concentration and focus on their breath, they become the characters of the story, in the story itself, hypothesising the development of the events and imagining the end of the story. Thanks to this journey, concentration, creativity and imagination are developed.
- Quotation: the story carries on, till the conclusion. The conclusion is realised through a sentence which synthetizes the value on which the story focused.
- Group Activity: at the end of the story activities such as acting, discussions or transcription of one’s own ideas can be carried out.This is a functional activity and it can be integrated in the curricular contents of the Italian study plan since students read, speak, listen, reflect and write.Experience shows that, if carried out continuously, interactive stories can improve class environment. Moreover, they also encourage students to reflect on their work and deeds, leading them to the discovery of human Values and the development of increased awareness and sense of responsibility.
Carlo TognettiLiterature’s Teacher and Human Values Educator