Myths about Youth Storytelling Part Two
I appreciate the response on part one about the myths of youth storytelling. Please feel free to add to these myths. I would invite you to take part in this conversation.
Myth #5—TEENS ARE NOT INTERESTED IN STORYTELLING
Teens are more than willing to tell stories, however their preparation as tellers cannot be the same method that you use in elementary school. Teenagers have their own stories, however, that does not mean that they will not tell elementary tales. It simply means they don’t wan to be talked down to but instead be encouraged for their natural curiosity. I have watched teens produce two audiotapes in storytelling, work with the Chicken Soup Company, and so much more. Once teens know that you will treat them as teens, they will soon be involved in teen telling and story sharing.
Myth #6—KIDS WILL NOT WORK WITH OLDER/YOUNGER KIDS
Smaller children marvel at the wonder of hearing older children tell stories. They are doubly amazed when they are asked to perform with the older kids. The older students feel as though they are teachers, which they are, when working with younger kids. Imagine the role models that are being placed. I have watched countless number of students work with younger children, it is a marvel to behold!
Myth #7—YOUTH WILL NOT WANT TO IMPROVE IN THEIR STORYTELLING
The opposite holds true. This is the time that youth want to know all there is to know about any art/science. Once an interest is established, the desire continues to grow. You will find that the students are not only receptive to new information, but also hang on to each degree of feedback and advice. My students alone raised $11,000 of their own funds just to have the chance to present and learn at the National Storytelling Conference. They truly will want to know more!
Myth #8—STORYTELLING IS TOO “BABY” OF A SUBJECT TO INVOLVE STUDENTS WHO ARE INTERESTED IN SPORTS, CHURCH ACTIVITIES, YMCA, AND OTHER
I have watched football players tell their coach that their schedule needs to be rearranged due to their storytelling meetings. Students have dropped cross-country because they had more need to tell, than run. Students often will negotiate a schedule just to ensure that storytelling can take place. When students are gone for meetings, they often tell how much they missed it. Imagine having a place to tell your story and listen to others, would you not miss it if you couldn’t be there?
Myth #9—ALL KIDS ARE ANGRY
Let’s face it, we live in a sometimes-angry world. The media glorifies crime, teens are labeled and younger kids are often seen as troublemakers or “wanna be’s.” How often do we say, “Hey, we understand, we are living in the same world.” Instead we separate our places, this is the kid’s place and this is the adult’s place. Storytelling invites all to be heard. It is a rare place where we will say, “Do you have a story to tell? I will listen.” I think this is a perfect place to see how anger can be diffused to understanding.
Myth #10—I DON’T HAVE THE RESOURCES TO GET STARTED
Forget about what you don’t have; think about what you do. You have a community and kids that are eager to start storytelling. Couple that with your own energy and you will soon find that you have more than enough to not only get started, but to have a pretty wonderful storytelling club.
Let us work hard to dispel these myths and instead promote youth storytelling. It is the only way that we can “build tradition one story at a time.”
The talented storytelling middle school coach Judy Sima and I wrote Raising Voices: Creating Youth Storytelling Groups and Troops. You can order this by clicking on the link of the image. Be sure to subscribe to stay up-to-date on storytelling practices. We hope this assists you with working with youth and your storytelling adventures.
If you know of someone or a program that deserves a spotlight, let us know. We would love to explore featuring them here.