Scéalta – The Early Childhood Ireland Blog

< Back to Blog

Tell me a story!

By: MARLENE MCCORMACK

Tuesday 29 September 2020

I am wondering if I have the hang of blogging. A blog, I think, is meant not only to tell but to engage – maybe to share a story!

Sir Ken Robinson, who died recently, was a great storyteller.  Make no mistake about it, he had a perspective on education, one that many subscribed to (myself included). But while many of us have opinions and perspectives on early childhood education, few have the capacity, style or presence to engage listeners in quite the way Sir Ken did. He told stories to illustrate his point, he made me laugh while at the same time, connected me to his core message.

I believe that storytelling is one of the greatest capacities that we have and one that we should foster with children. The great thing about storytelling in early childhood settings is that it is not resource heavy; what it demands is time, attention, active listening and intentionality on the part of the educator. In other words, we need to value storytelling and we need to model storytelling.  When I was growing up, many moons ago, telling stories had the connotation of ‘telling lies’, which may have had some truth at times. But of course, storytelling is deeply embedded in our culture - just think about the Seanchaí, who passed on local history through narrative.  The spoken or written retelling is part of who we are because ‘we dream in narrative, daydream in narrative, remember, anticipate, hope, despair, believe, doubt, plan, revise, criticise, construct, gossip, learn, hate and live by narrative’ (Hardy, 1977, p13).

I have a favourite book that has nothing to do with early childhood, ‘Learning through Storytelling in Higher Education’.  This book reminds me of the power of stories to support learning and while this is aimed at those teaching young adults, in reality, I think it holds true for our work with young children.  Storytelling is a way of making meaning and could almost be considered a therapeutic process. Just think about the last time you chatted with a friend, you probably recounted a story.  The story of how you managed to reopen the setting, the story of the lost holiday deposit, the story of losing someone or of a joyful moment when you felt at one with the world. Jerome Bruner (1986, p.69), who heavily influences early childhood education, says that stories help us understand our self and brings together cognition, emotion and action. I think what he means is that in storytelling we shape and put out our experiences to our listeners. We allow others to enter our world (we give a little of ourselves) and sometimes we need to retell a story a few times for emotional release and enable us to let go. Telling stories requires us to remember and reflect on an episode, reorganise our thoughts and sequence our ideas. Every story needs a listener who is engaged and maybe hangs on every word that is said. 

A master of listening to children’s stories, who died last year, is Vivian Gussin Paley.  If you have not read any of her work, just get a copy of any of her books, maybe start with ‘The Boy who would be a Helicopter’, as it is a celebration of children’s imagination.  Vivian taught us how to value, listen to and record children’s stories.  One of the things that struck me deeply is the idea of creating a habit of storytelling and story-listening. Like everything else in life, practice makes perfect and the more children have the opportunity to tell their story and to be heard, the more skilled, confident, and creative they become in recounting their experiences or simply letting us know what is on their minds.  Vivian offers a framework to capture their stories. Just google her name and you will get articles and YouTube clips galore.  This link will bring you to an interview she did in 2011 and it will give you a sense of her story or perspective on narrative in the early childhood classroom or setting.

We are so lucky in early childhood to also have Margaret Carr and Wendy Lee, who have both introduced us to ways of seeing and sharing stories – this needs a separate blog all on its own! But the point I am making is that storytelling is an amazing capacity, which I believe we should use ourselves and foster intentionally in our work with young children.

But back to Sir Ken, who got me thinking about the power of stories and narrative. Maybe I’m shallow, but I fell in love with his ideas partially because they endorsed my own beliefs. I was also hooked in and enamoured with his ways of telling the story, sharing the message – the story of passion, willingness to have a go, creativity and imagination.

All of these capabilities or dispositions are in the DNA of most early childhood educators or teachers, so let’s celebrate the power and joy of creative narrative.

 

References: 

Hardy, B. (1977). Towards a poetics of fiction: An approach through narrative. IN M. Meek, A. Warlow & G. Barton. (Eds.).  The cool web: the patterns of children’s reading. London: The Bodley Head.

 

Bio:

Marlene McCormack is a lecturer and placement coordinator on the Bachelor of Early Childhood Education in the DCU Institute of Education. Over her time in early childhood, she has worn many hats, as playgroup leader, centre manager, director of training, department head in ECI and always as an advocate for those working directly with children and families.  Her current focus is on preparing students for professional practice and her research interests include pedagogy and documentation.   

 

 

0 comments Comments

Leave a Reply

Please Log In to comment:

Educator Award - Leader in Practice(1) Aistear Siolta Practice Guide(1) code of professional responsibility(1) apps for children(1) Games(1) Infection Control(1) Santa(2) life long learning(1) Maria Montessori(1) Workplace Relations(3) Ariana Pucci(1) Childcare(3) Department of Children and Youth Affairs(2) Learning Stories Award(3) Nuturing interactions(1) Party(1) experience(1) The Jelly King(1) Technology(3) learners(1) Mark Twain(1) development(8) pets(1) Glitter(2) research submissions(1) Limerick(1) International Narratives(1) Brain(1) healthy eating policies(1) CPD(1) Storytelling(7) child-centric(1) friendships(1) childcare services(1) Jillian van Turnhout(1) Exit interview(1) Winter(1) Growing up in Ireland(3) Children and families(1) Pobal sector profile(1) Obesity(1) Mantra(1) Interactions(3) Leargas(1) value(1) Independence(1) National Childcare Scheme(1) planning(1) Advocacy(1) peer group(1) Equality & Inclusion Guidelines Training(1) Event Guide(1) Learning through Storytelling(1) Positivity(1) Return to Work Training(1) Frustrations(1) Pen green(1) Research Conference 2019(1) Celebrate(1) Magic(1) Imagination(3) emotional environment(2) Adverse Childhood Experiences(1) Wonder(1) Mud kitchens(1) Pretend Play(1) Gratitude(1) Book Club(2) Primary School(3) Capable(1) Children's Voice(1) Leadership(1) parents(6) Workplace well-being(1) Awards(2) Qualifications(1) Role play(1) Trigonometry(1) Online(1) Engineering Ireland(1) Arlene Forster(1) Leadership for INClusion in the Early Years(1) Behaviour(3) Body Language(1) Belonging(3) coronavirus(1) Cognitive development(1) educarer(1) Yoga(1) NCCA(3) Cork Institute of Technology(1) Identity(5) risky play(2) Upcycling(1) Digital Devices(1) Identity and Belonging(4) Staff Motivation(1) worries(1) Snacks(1) Craft(1) Online Research Symposium(1) Sustainable(1) risk(2) Light table(1) European Project(1) Together Old and Young Programme(1) Investment(2) reopening(1) Learning Stories(9) Prexit(1) Mealtimes(1) Painting(1) listening(1) MA(1) Early Childhood Education(1) Hand Hygiene(2) democratic citizens(1) Malaguzzi(1) purpose(1) Dr Mary O'Kane(1) staying connected(1) Interaction(1) Orla Kenny(1) conversations(1) Map(1) Communications(1) Autism(4) Human Resources(1) Thanks(1) Ceremony(1) Youtube Series(1) eating(1) reopening ireland(1) COVID-19(14) ERASMUS+(3) Affordability(1) Appreciation(1) Study Trip(1) University(1) preschool settings(1) Tuscan Approach(2) memories(1) Decisions(1) Special Needs Assistants(1) Summer(1) Learning Journal(2) Fee Play(1) babies(7) Emergent Curriculum(1) CCTV(1) Pobal(1) christmas(9) Early Childhood Ireland’s National Early Childhood Research Conference 2019(1) lockdown(1) Annual Conference 2019(1) multi-generational community(1) Mental Health(4) First 5 transitions for children award(1) Professionalisation(5) behavioural science(1) Trade union(1) Pedagogical leaders(1) Arithmetic(1) NAEYC(1) DCYA(6) reading(5) Routines(2) developing motor skills(1) National Awards 2018(2) books(4) EECERA(1) ears(1) Children's Research Network(1) Visual Impairment(1) Covid pandemic(2) Rich Documentation(1) Early Childhood Ireland National Awards(2) inspiring interactions(1) Looking Back(1) World Health Organisation(1) Covid response(2) outdoor play(6) emotional well-being(1) structure(1) Proceedings Journal(1) Kindness Challenge(1) gender stereotype(1) Sessional service(1) Self-Esteem(1) Counting(1) Síolta(136) Liz Kerrins(1) Socioemotional development(1) Smiles(1) Engineers Week(2) SAC(1) early childhood educator(2) Supernanny(1) aistear blog(3) Plastic(1) mushrooms(1) youdoodle(1) Inspections(1) Wilenski(1) Rituals(1) primary education(1) PIP(1) dublin(2) Meal time(1) science(3) Iraq(1) dogs(1) Environment(2) Wesco(1) Maths Week Ireland(1) environments(1) movement behaviours(1) Super Shed Stories(2) Minister for Children and Youth Affairs(1) democracy(1) Budget 2020(1) Snakes(1) annual awards(1) Feeding(1) Twitter(1) Aistear(130) Administrative Burden(1) Buddy Bench(1) Time(1) Funding(1) trust(4) Reading Time(1) Impact(1) preschool(4) Department of Education and Skills(1) Spiders(1) Maternity Leave(1) Pre-School Services(1) UD(1) Reopening Childcare(1) Mayo(1) Running(1) Exploratory Play(1) COVID-19 landscape(1) Inspired Practice Award(6) Valentine's Day(3) online training(1) Albert Einstein(1) Plants(1) ELC(1) Family(1) Reggio Children Network(1) Universal Design(2) Performing(1) Nonverbal(1) code of ethics(1) Academics(1) under 3's(3) Change(1) Early Childhood Ireland(10) Learning Story(1) Building Resilience(1) Covid19 crisis(1) ECEC(3) baby room(1) EECERA 2016(1) E.coli(1) research(6) Partnership with Families Innovation Award(2) Budget 2018(1) social media policy(1) Early Years Educators(3) STEM(3) Exclusion(1) show and tell(1) Meet the Members(1) Child Care(1) Awards 2019(1) Buddies(1) Trick or treat(1) EM Standing(1) Providing Leadership to the First 5(1) TRAP(1) role playing(1) Infectious diseases(1) Deirdre Rogers(1) children’s learning(1) early years learning(1) RTE Investigates(1) Love(3) refugees(1) linc(1) Wrapping paper(1) ECCE(7) Kilkenny(1) Easter(1) Social Skills(1) gender bias(1) Minister Katherine Zappone(1) Digital(1) Aldo Fortunati(4) imotion(1) Scéalta Book Review(1) story time(2) San Miniato(4) Mindfulness(3) Syria(1) Childcare Barometer 2018(1) blog(52) stories(3) education(2) overhear(1) Through the looking glass(1) Maths Week(1) Budget 2019(2) National Annual Awards 2020(1) Giraffe(2) toddlers(3) Story(2) Exercise(1) National Research Conference 2019(1) Arts(1) Loss(1) ECIAwards20(1) National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education(1) Sleep(1) Recycling(2) keezy(1) Empathy(1) Irish(1) LINC Award for Leadership in Inclusion(2) United Nations(1) Access and Inclusion Model(2) early life(1) Penguins(1) Learning Story Awards(2) Educator of the Year Award(3) National Early Childhood Research Conference(1) Queues(1) Reflective Practice(1) play pods(2) Vietnam(1) SPICE Framework(1) Early Years(1) Seanchaí(1) Wendy Lee(3) routine(2) transitions(10) children development(1) phone apps(1) outdoor environment(1) Italy(1) Little Buddies(1) Masterclass(2) Jenga(1) play(35) The Play and Learning in the Early Years(1) College(1) Design(1) Margy Whalley(1) Inclusion(3) education system(1) man up(1) Snack Time(1) risk assessment(1) Self Help Skills(1) Japan(1) continual professional development(1) InspireMe.ie(1) Síolta QAP(1) Dance(1) Children's Rights(3) Creativity(6) TOY Programme(1) Oireachtas(1) Small World Play(1) Shoes(1) Your place(1) Children(4) Awards 2018(3) GoToMeeting app(1) Patterns(1) Visitors(1) emotions(2) Awards Night(1) Exploring and Thinking(1) science week(2) Sport(1) Inter-generational learning(2) European Early Childhood Education Research Association(2) Facebook(1) Iceland(1) Performance Management(1) Elders(1) play stories(2) early childhood(1) Playdough(1) Leprechauns(1) conference(1) RIE philosphy(1) General Data Protection Regulation(1) Magnavacchi(1) Flowers(1) Sequins(1) Degree(1) Weather(1) Family wall(1) learning hub(1) Care-giving routines(1) Vertical grouping(1) Child mental health(1) Sociodramatic play(1) School Age Childcare(1) learning bias(1) Vivian Gussin Paley(1) iOS(1) grandchild(1) Magda Gerber(1) Our Little Seed(1) Laugh(1) Research and Professional Learning(1) Siolta blog(8) Growing up Outdoors(1) Early Years Education(1) Thinking(1) Music(3) Traditions(2) Irish Early Years Research & Practice Seminar 2018(1) Cork(1) Engineering(3) Inspired Practice Awards(1) Looking Forward(1) Blocks(1) Playschool(1) Challenges(1) Decision Making(1) Death(2) dining(1) UN Sustainable Development Goals(1) Biting(1) Sweets(1) Maynooth(1) Valerie Gaynor(1) Motor neuron disease(1) Gardening(1) Grief(1) Book Review(1) Policy(2) Leaders in Practice(1) Sculptures(1) Self-regulation(1) National Awards 2019(1) scéalta(55) Support(1) Exploring(1) Nutrition(1) Drawing(2) Irish Childhood Bereavement Network(1) IGL(1) bonds(1) Montessori(3) collaboration(1) Early Childhood Care and Education(2) dining experiences(1) child-centred approach(1) Health(2) The Lullaby Book(1) Anthony Semann(1) Inspirational(2) Competent(1) Trauma-Sensitive(1) Inspiring Practice(1) National Council for Curriculum and Assessment(1) racism(1) Certificate(1) Mathematicians(1) Horizon 2020(1) Treasure(1) Thank you(1) Consent(1) ICBN(1) St. Patrick's Day(1) AsIAm(2) COVID-19 Reopening(2) Equality(1) MECPI(1) Learning journals(1) Halloween(2) Reggio(1) National Bereaved Children's Awareness Week(1) maternity health(1) Frosty the Snowman(1) Effect of Lockdown(1) Kerry(1) Potential(1) Eritrea(1) interacting(2) Policy and Implementation Panel(1) First 5(1) keep in touch(1) UN(1) meals(3) Inter-generational(2) Recycle(1) educating(1) Favouritism(1) documentation(4) CIT(1) Home Corner(1) communication(4) UNICEF report(1) art of the relationship(1) Pedagogy(2) curiosity(3) Adoption(1) Names(1) Photographs(1) New Appointments(1) Opportunities(1) Care routines(1) Universal Design Guidelines(1) social science(1) Toby Bears Camping Trip(1) awards 2020(1) UNCRC(2) Creative(1) Mixed age groups(3) supportive environments(2) Culture(2) bloom app(1) creche(1) Workforce(1) Confidence(1) Trade Unions(1) Fantasy play(1) Educators(2) First 5 strategy(1) Interests(1) HR(1) AIM(2) food(1) Large Doll Play(1) Educator - Leader in Practice Award(1) Window(1) Loving Relationships(2) Rising to the Challenge(2) Training(2) Graduation(1) Confident(1) mental health problems(1) Diversity(1) Montessori & Early Childhood Professionals Ireland(1) curriculum(5) early years research(2) Well-Being(10) Graduate(1) Mo Scéal(1) Document Learning(1) INTO(1) Research Seminar(1) Relaxation(1) Laughter(1) Celebrations(4) Time Out(1) Maynooth University(2) budget(1) Employee(1) Kids Own(1) Lego(2) GDPR(1) Childhood(1) Treasure Chest(1) journey(1) COVID-19 crisis(1) Fabric(1) Seas Suas(1) feisty(1) Line-ups(1) outdoors(4) annual conference(1) Early Learning and Care Centres(1) playleader(1) Síolta Quality Assurance programme(1) Scents(1) Quality(4) ReCreate(2) play therapy(1) Irish guidelines(1) listen(1) Engagement(1) responsive relationships(1) Xbox(1) pablo(1) Afghanistan(1) Builders(1) Aistear Siolta in Action(1) Breathing(2) DES Inspection(1) Norway(2) outdoor space(3) Dr. Emer Ring(1) Christmas Creativity(2) Academic Skills(1) Shapes(2) respect(5) relationships(18) Mount Everest(1) early years settings(1) Reggio Emilia(2) Settling in(4) learning(19) National Pyjama Day(1) Scéalta Blog(104) Participation(2) National Holiday(1) family time(1) Traffic Lights(1) Kindness(1) Annual Conference 2017(2) Teamwork(1) play pod(1) Bereavement(2) community(5) Anxiety(2) Early Learning and Care(1) Community involvement(1) ECEC Setting(2) Stress(2) social media(2) Art(6) Sustainability(3) Touch(1) animals(2) Intention(1) Titles(1) Maths(6) Communicating(1) Whole Group(1) june29(1)

SIGN UP FOR BLOG UPDATES

SUBSCRIBE
Site maintained and developed by Cloud Nine