Storytelling: The Lost Art

storytelling Feb 22, 2023
Storytelling in Waldorf Education

Do you have a favorite story? Can you remember the vivid detail of that story? What story still moves you to tears or makes your belly ache from laughter? Who told you your story? What story do you tell? What is your story?

As a younger, new Waldorf teacher I was so intimidated by the fact that the curriculum was so full of stories and I often wondered what the purpose of it would be. I hoped that the children would listen, retain and enjoy the stories, and I was so pleasantly surprised by how the young child would take it into their soul life and then bring the images forward in their work and art.

There is absolutely nothing as beautiful as a story well told. As the years went by and the confidence grew, I found my love of storytelling. It was such a wonderful method of reaching the children and captivating them in the quiet moments in a classroom.

There is a beautiful moment when the children are aware that a story is to be told in the class.There is a gentle quiet and calm that descends and you are aware of something magical happening within the heart of a child. In class one the fairy tales assist the children with the forming of their inner pictures and the shaping of their letters.The Fables bring the humor of stories in beautifully to the children in short delicate installments. For me personally, the more a story brings laughter, the longer we will remember that story!

One of the joys of storytelling is how the children retain and recall the most fine detail omitted  from a story.The children are also confident enough to point out that their teacher has forgotten sections of the story! I live in a country with a most beautiful cultural diversity and our stories  have molded us and sustains us now. We share our stories around campfires under the  beautiful African sky.

The Khoisan, the Zulu and the Xhosa nations have the most beautiful creation and animal stories. These are incorporated in our schooling life.The STORY is held throughout the Waldorf curriculum and we as teachers adapt our method of telling the stories to the children in our classes.

In Ancient India the Brahmins would learn vast verses and stories and hold them sacred for generations to come. The Norse myths bring epic tales of Gods and monsters and the mischievous adventures of Loki. I am always so amazed at the effect the story of Ragnarok has on me as a teacher, no matter how often I have told it. Greece, Babylon, Persia and Rome bring the stories of ancient civilization to life.

The biographies of the Renaissance brings inspiration and show the children the birth of thinking and the will of man. The Voyages of Discovery show the challenges of searching for new worlds. The stories awaken our thinking, our will and of course our feeling. The children are in the presence of beautiful descriptive words. The flow of language brings inspiration to their own writing. Soon they too bring their own stories and learn how to retell them.

I have known amazing story tellers and I have lost many great story tellers. I have found the wisdom in the stories of my grandparents and in meeting older and wiser Waldorf teachers and mentors.

The story will always be there. Our task is to find it and hold it like a golden treasure.

~By Gerhard Siepker ~ Class 4/Class 8 Teacher

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