SOULTales - Character Strengths, Stories & Vocabulary

Friday, December 9, 2011

It starts with me!

Pouring over some storytelling sites and activities, I veered off to look at how Stories and Telling impact learning, creativity and development. It does and Indian history is choc-o-block with stories of how stories were used as tools for learning!! I don't have to delve too much there, that's stuff we already know. What most people dont know is how far it can impact learning....

Stories actually impact us at a very subconscious level. It is not about reading print or telling children fairy tales, the impact of sharing personal stories of childhood, growing up stories, stories of success and failure, stories of Heroes from reality and mythology, all add up to the "building up of character". The best part is that this "Character" is what determines how successful a person becomes in life.

I am going to write about "character building" and more on that later; I even have a story that I often tell, which fits perfectly into the facets that this research talks about....but I am jumping way ahead of what I want to say here!!....
Where do we start with this character building and how do we do it with words?

Most storytelling programmes/ training starts off  by exploring the meaning behind one's own name, if you are part of a theatre group, then a gesture or a sound may be attached to the name and we are left with a realization that names indeed reflect the person within (and vice-versa).

Identity and self awareness is where we start from, simple but oh-so powerful.(It all starts with me!!)

So for children we start with awareness of their own name. Do they know the meaning of their name? Do they know the origin of their name? Who chose their name? Where did their parents get the name from? Was there a naming ceremony? What happened in this ceremony? Are there pictures taken for this ceremony? Who were there? How many names do you have? Do you like your name? If not what name would you like to call yourself?

What is the STORY behind your name?!!

In this process the child is filled with a sense of self and uniqueness which is the first step to understanding and growth. Even a child as small as 3 years can be asked simple questions and encouraged to ask his parents/caregiver the Name-Story. 

This is one story the children would love to hear, recall and retell any number of times!
I chanced upon another brilliant activity to do; a variation of the Name-Story. This can be done with older kids, perhaps 6+, the ones whose expressive language is better developed.

Of course I promptly did it for myself!!

Describe or think of words /adjectives( preferably positive) for every letter in your name. Go on do it and see how much fun it is. We are very good judges of ourselves, even if we think we are not, and the same goes for kids. If they are not horsing around and making every letter into a gross cariacature of weirdness, they can actually come up with some fantastic Name-Acronymns.

Mine goes like this:

S-Stubborn ( my daughter promptly said Sweet ; though I do not prefer that sticky adjective!); Secretive
O-Out standing ( yes, like to stand out in my own way!); Obstinate!!
W-Warm; Wise (I think so!)
M-Motherly; Mighty
Y-Youthful; Young
A-Ambitious; Attractive; Attentive;

Though the game asks for a single word, I could not restrict myself to one word and I feel when you have more words it brings in greater depth to the character we are building ( me, over here!!)

Here is my daughter's:
(She goofed around a bit, but I kept pushing her. It was tough at some levels I guess for her to confront and define herself. It is so wonderful what this has opened for me, I am waiting to explore her feeling on this as soon I can get her to talk about it!)

U- Understanding ( very)
T-  Tinkerbell (as cute as her explanation)
H- Huggable
A- Accurate (this does not in any way reflect how she keeps her material things, but when she said accurate I understood it was a need for Intellectual Accuracy that she was talking about...very true!!)
R- Romantic! (and she clarifies to me that the English teacher had explained the meaning of Romantic as a "nature loving "person and that's the usage here...I mentally high-fived the English teacher for imparting this piece of knowledge to my dear one!!) 
A-.......( I'll think about it!)...........and she goes to sleep....

Here again, these words need not be fixed permanently into the psyche, in fact we must revisit them from time to time (I would say every year). Add some, remove some, and feel yourself taking shape within these words!! What a wonderful way to explore your self...

(I could not get my goofy son to do it, later when he decides not to trouble me, I will probably get some great answers. I am waiting...gleefully!)

(please do leave your Name-Acronyms on the comment form
I would love to know your Name story too...).