Storytelling can be magic!

Using storytelling in training and education looks a well perceived approach to start a course whether online self-paced or teacher-led in class at school. I still remember how drawn we were in K12 classes when our teacher used to begin with: Once upon a time, there was this hero who…” or better when he was impersonating the scientist whose invention changed the face of the world!

Our engagement was total, hooked to every detail, not daring to ask questions to keep this magic go on… I remember we gathered in small groups during the breaks discussing how fun the class was, at times we played the roles, creating another story of our own.

So things went on learning from a story, this was not for every class, yet for math, science and grammar were very popular moments, ones could not imagine 35 students silent listening and learning!

A year or so ago, I was attending a MOOC class about the “Future of Storytelling” as a first assignment we were asked to pick up a story that marked our lives during childhood, and share it with the rest of the participants. It did not take too long for me to find that tale that I still remember since the first time I read the book and then after the animated movie…


The snowman and the boy – (Raymond Briggs – 1978)

The first time I read this Christmas tale was around 1979, it kept me awake until I finished reading these unique emotions. Yes reading emotions may be seen as an image, still I felt transported with the Snowman and Bill the little boy… These images reminding me of my own time at Christmas when my uncles, aunts and parents used to tell us, my brother and me, these stories reviving our imagination, keeping us awake even when kids of our age were supposed to be in bed sleeping.

I must admit I felt very emotional after reading this tale, not of sadness but more because it brought my feelings to a level of sensitivity I thought I would not feel at all, especially when it was not that obvious that boys did cry!

I kept this moment to myself until the day I was watching TV with one of my daughters (1984 I think) that movie was playing, it was Christmas time, very circumstantial of course.

When I realized it was the book I read years ago, all the memories came back, looking at Bill (the little boy) and his friend the Snowman discovering each other, how Bill brought the snowman to his place, worries, caring… I was really in a separate realm of joy. My daughter looking at me, said “Daddy it is a sad story, I can feel it, something bad will happen to the snowman!” she was right, and the most hard for me, knowing the end, I could not escape from answering her curious questions about the end. So we watched together until the last scene, this is when she burst in tears and hid her face in my arms crying her soul out.

When she grew up and got married and had her first kid, she bought the movie and played it at Christmas time, holding her child in her arms, saying that many years ago when she was her age, she did watch the same story, she also felt sad and cried too, then adding, “your grandfather, my dad, made me feel something special when afterwards he told me that our hearts can feel things that are special about caring, feeling and loving”…

Back to our days!

It is not said that storytelling is just about stories for kids, even if kids show their emotions better than adults who hide their own feelings so often. Storytelling can be magic, the magic that open doors where traditional approaches, in particular learning may fail more than we would imagine. People who learn love using their imagination to perceive and understand anything they need to learn. If you ever remember something you learned easily, check back your memories, there must have been some sort f story behind it.

I wish you many stories and tales to enjoy…

Michel – June 12, 2014

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