Sara Hurley, a visiting story teller, performer and educator from the UK, joined the conclave speaking about and demonstrating “Experiential Learning Through Story Telling.” Director of the integrated arts company, Blazing Tales, UK, Sara Hurley first hosted a session for 350 during TTF's Children's Day event “A Medley of Music, Myth and Mirth” and later at the conference turned her focus to a broader perspective, explaining how story telling can be used as experiential learning.
Through story telling, children make their own images and narratives which helps ensure whole child learning. It is a democratic art form, it is for the people, and a method that is open to all. She explained, “You need to get inside the story, and make up your own story by stirring the imagination. It is the imagination,” she continued, that is “connected to the complexity of being a human being.”
The challenge of story telling is accessing the authentic imagination – not the ideas that the child thinks the teacher wants to hear— but the ideas that remain unprovoked. Using props and pictures helps students feel less vulnerable as they can project their own hopes and images onto the pictures and explore them without feeling exposed.
Using an activity to elaborate her discussion, participants imagined being in the classroom and the teacher asks them to find a space in the classroom. Ms. Hurley asked the participants to imagine that they're in the rainforest and asked them to take a step forward into the rainforest. She had them imagine the colours they see, the size of the trees, and as they walk deeper into the forest, feel the temperature change. She asked the participants, “Have you been to this forest before? Is it the first time or do you come here a lot?”
Coming to a close, Ms. Hurley asked one participant what he sees. “A tree” he responded. Ms. Hurley asked him to describe the tree or say something about it. The participant says he wants to hug the tree but he is too small.
If a group of grown-ups at ICS were transported to a far off rainforest, imagine what could happen with group of school children!