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Oral Storytelling Passes Along Wisdom
August 7, 2020
The human species thinks in metaphors and learns through stories.
-Mary Catherine Bateson
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“Everybody is a story,” writes Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D., in her bestselling book, Kitchen Table Wisdom. “When I was a child, people sat around kitchen tables and told their stories. We don’t do that so much anymore…Telling stories is not just a way of passing time. It is the way the wisdom gets passed along.”

 In “Oral Storytelling with Children,” the newest in our Exchange Reflections series, based on the article, “The Magic of Oral Storytelling,” author Lenore Peachin Wineberg writes:

“The research states that oral storytelling enhances children’s imagination (Aina, 1999), increases interaction through eye contact (Malo & Bullard, 2000), and is more personal and enjoyable than listening to stories being read (Meyers, 1990). Several researchers state that oral storytelling promotes listening skills (Colon-Vila, 1997; Ellis, 1997) and ‘enhances fluency, vocabulary acquisition, and recall’ (Farrell & Nessell, 1982, p. 1). In a study comparing oral storytelling and story reading, the findings showed students in the storytelling group improved more in their recall as compared to the students in the reading group (Gallets, 2005). My study with teacher candidates to empower them with skills to tell oral stories corroborates that oral storytelling improves recall (Wineberg, 2018).”

The new Exchange Reflections offers ideas for discussion and action steps based on bringing back the lost art of oral storytelling. Here’s another quote from Rachel Naomi Remen:

“In telling them [our stories], we are telling each other the human story. Stories that touch us in this place of common humanness awaken us and weave us together as a family once again.”





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