Monday, November 9, 2009

Ugly Ogling Ogre

Once upon a time, there lived an ugly ogling ogre who had a kind heart. He was a vegetarian. He was in love with Ohoho. Huh? Did I get your attention?

The power of storytelling is something that we fully understood and enjoyed as children, but somehow forgot as we grew older. Our brain waves would change during a presentation when the presenter says the magic words, "Let me tell you a story..." Those about to doze off would be jolted. Unconsciously, bodies lean forward, ears prick up and attention levels jump.

This year, I have the chance to reacquaint with this power as I was roped in to teach. I become a ‘Jataka Penglipur Lara’ to a bunch of 7 and 8 years old kids. Theoretically, it should be a stroll in the park especially since the stories are all compiled in the text book. Lo and behold! It is easier said than done as these millennium kids will have no patience to sit still for an hour to listen to this Generation X babbling away without any visual aid. Traditional way of bulldozing my way does not work anymore! Either I arouse them or I lose them!

I need to crack my head to utilize various props and tools. I need to combine the hardware and software! I can build up the expectation and suspense by parading these gadgets but the last thing I want is to disappoint them with boring contents and delivery.

I downloaded some Jataka tales from YouTube and shared them in the class, using laptop and LCD projector. The kids did not seem excited. Perhaps they were expecting more action packed scenes. I mixed these tales with other short animations. As expected, a few who had this notion ‘computer means games’, tried their luck, “ Teacher, can we play computer games?”. The answer was a no brainer!

The first time when I wheeled in the overhead projector, they were curious and wondered if I were showing them a Transformer! They were totally clueless with this piece of junk.

It was totally different reaction from seeing a computer. They must have been disappointed when the projector was switched on! Nothing transformed and nothing moved. Being smart kids, a few quickly found ways to amuse themselves by shadow playing with their hands!

Personally, the best tool to tell these stories was to get them to role play or act them out! This method would allow them to burn all their excess energy and voila, some hidden talents were unearthed. Initially, they would be coy and preferred to take the role of extras but after a few takes; many would love to be the hero and heroine! Perhaps they could do a better job than Keanu Reeves in portraying our great teacher.

The power of storytelling is too powerful to ignore. It is an effective and fun way to acquire knowledge.

We seldom remember key points stated as stark, bare facts. But we do remember stories and the powerful principles and messages that are subtly embedded inside them. This awesome power of storytelling is something that we can harness and arm these kids with.

Who knows, 20 years from now during the 100 year celebrations, a few will become prominent public speakers and will look back and say, ”..apa nama, I have my first break in BISDS..” The rest is history.