The Power of Story
On the very first day of school, Kimie wrote this reflection:
Our first morning meeting after goodbyes to loved ones–we found ourselves alone together for the first time as a group, all 14 of us sitting with each other…after singing and celebrating their successes of the morning, reinforcing the routine, we opened up the meeting. We were about to introduce and begin story workshop, and I had brought a story to share with them about my summer… but before I started, I asked them if there was anyone who wanted to first share a story from their summer? One child who had been very apprehensive recently about separating from his mother raised his hand and said, "I have a story." And, he gently offered these words.
There was once a little boy. He was lost and alone and hungry. He was walking through the woods and he came to a store. He didn't know if the food was free or not. So he asked the lady at the store, "Is this food free?" She said, "yes." And he was happy.
The children were completely mesmerized, and hung on to each word, as did I. This story voiced so many questions and emotions about place, and sense of connection and security and resolution–yet not complete resolution–so true to their own situation… the connections were palpable, the story soothing.
Story Workshop is a structure at Opal School that we have been inventing and researching and re-inventing. It has been said that children learn the syntax of language so they can tell stories. And it is well known that we make meaning of our experiences through story. What a powerful example this is of how young children use story to make sense of experience, to comfort and to connect. All of the children, and Kimie herself, recognized instantly the nugget of the human condition that was univeral and therefore held them all together through that story. Human beings are wired to connect.
Through story, we build community. And through shared experience, we find story. What stories are your children telling of the first week of school?
Here and here are some images of experiences that might help get some others started…