Photo credit: flikr
Two years ago I was very fortunate to be part of an in-house training session where our excellent and highly creative Literacy coordinator talked about the importance of story telling. During the training, he talked passionately about the need for teachers to take a small amount of time each week/day to read stories to their own classes.
Up until this session I had never really bothered to read any stories or books to any of the classes I had taught. Afterwards I think it is fair to say that I felt rather ashamed and embarrassed that I had been unwilling to take the time to read to the children I had been teaching at that time.
And so, since that training session, I have made it a goal to read to my class as often as I can. I have discovered that reading enables me to enthuse and motivate the children in a way that I had never thought possible. Since STD (Story Telling Day-great acronym I know) I have read dozens of books and stories to my current and previous classes.
I really cannot believe that I never realised the huge potential that story telling has on children (and adults). In the Youtube video by Matt Helmke, Matt describes Garr Reynold’s Presentation Zen’s SUCCES criteria. He explains that the final ‘S’ stands for ‘Story Telling’. I adamantly and wholeheartedly agree that to be a successful presenter, you have to be able to relate and explain stories effectively.
When it comes to delivering my own stories, I have had mixed success with adult audiences. I often find that my nerves tend to take over and so my stories tend to be rambling and bitty with an ineffective punchline at the end. However, with children I tend to have better success. This is probably due to the fact that I can use character voices and other storytelling gimmicks to deliver the message I actually want to convey.
So I have decided to combine three aspects of my current educational life to create a Google presentation for a story based on an ancient Egyptian fable called ‘The peasant and the workman’.
Three aspects of current educational life:
- To embed stimulating history lessons into the curriculum in new role as Primary History coordinator
- To provide children with stories which are historically relevant to a particular time.
- To use the ‘Zen Presentation’ style story slide shows to act as a visual stimulus for the stories.
The Egyptian test lesson
The idea is to introduce aspects of ancient Egyptian culture that the students will be able to identify i.e. government, produce, social structure…etc. Hopefully, the combination of me retelling the story and a limited yet powerful visual stimulus should open up a class debate on the beliefs, farming and social practices of the ancient Egyptians.
I am actually hoping to introduce this type of story-based lesson format into all units across the school. The format will probably change as I am wondering whether a ‘Zen’ style presentation combined with ‘Hot-seating’ a character from history might serve to introduce more famous personalities from different historical times i.e. Mary Seacole, Winston Churchill, Pericles…etc.
I have included both the edited story and the presentation below (although I am unhappy with some of the images and the background theme and would like suggestions on any pictures or theme choices people might be able to recommend).
If all goes well, I am going to trial the lesson at some point in the near future. Hopefully the children’s reaction will give me a better idea of how effective the slide show/story combination are when it comes to providing children with a better understanding of a particular time in history.
The Peasant and the Lord’s son story
Tale of the Ninth Dynasty, which from the number of copies made would seem to have been very popular at that time. It relates to how a peasant succeeded in obtaining justice after he had been robbed. Justice was not very easily obtained in Egypt in those times, for it seems to have been requisite that a peasant should attract the judge’s attention by some special means, if his case were to be heard at all.
Egyptian Peasant on donkey slide
Long ago in the Salt Country of Ancient Egypt there lived a sekhti (peasant) with his family. He worked hard and traded in salt, natron, rushes, and the other products of Ancient Egypt. One day on his way to sell his salt, natron and rushes he had to pass through the lands of the house of Fefa. Now there lived a man named Tehuti, who was the son of the local lord. When Tehuti saw this peasant he decided that he wanted the donkeys, salt, natron and rushes they carried.
Shawl on grass slide
“I will take,” said he, “a shawl, and will spread it upon the path. If the sekhti walks his donkeys over it- and there is no other way- then I shall have his donkeys because he will be setting foot on my land.” And so Tehuti had one of his servants place a shawl over the path so that one end was in the water, the other was in his corn field.
When the sekhti came closer he made his donkeys pass over the shawl because had no choice!
Donkey eating corn slide
“Stop!” cried Tehuti pretending to be angry, “Surely you do not intend to drive your beasts over my clothes!”
“I will try to avoid them,” replied the good-natured peasant, and he caused the rest of his donkeys to pass through the corn field.
“Do you, then, walk your donkeys through my cornfield?” said Tehuti, more angrily than ever.
“There is no other way!” said the poor peasant. “You have blocked the path with your shawl, and I must leave the path!”
While the two argued one of the donkeys helped itself to a mouthful of corn.
“Look at that!” Tehuti cried. “Your donkey is eating my corn. I will take your donkey, and he shall pay for the theft.”
“This is robbery”, cried the sekhti, “in the lands of the High lord who has always treated robbers so badly? I will go to him. He will not accept what you have done to me.”
“I am the son of the local lord,” and saying this he beat the sekhti and stole all his donkeys.
Egyptian Lord and Ladies slide
The sekhti wept and pleaded with him to restore his property but the Sekhti ignored him. Eventually, finding that he was wasting his time, the peasant took himself to the home of the High Lord of this part of Egypt to ask for his help. On his arrival the sekhti bowed low to the ground, and told the high lord what had happened. The sekhti revealed all that had happened to him on his journey, the way in which Tehuti had closed the path so as to force his donkeys to step on the corn, and the cruelty with which he had beaten him and stolen his property. The High lord said he would speak about this with the other lords in the hall of judgement.
Peasant and lord/king slide
“Let this sekhti bring a witness,” the other lords said, ” and if he is right then Tehuti should be beaten, or he should be made to pay a small amount of money for the salt, natron and donkeys he has stolen.”
The High Lord said nothing, and the sekhti came to him after pleading with the high lord’s servants. The sekhti hailed him as the greatest of the great, the orphan’s father, the widow’s husband, the guide of the needy, and so on.
The sekhti spoke so cleverly that the Lord Steward was interested and flattered by what the sekhti had said.
Food and drink slide
Now at that time there sat upon the throne of Egypt the King Neb-ka-n-ra, and the high lord decided to ask his advice.
He went to the High lord and said “My lord, a sekhti whose goods were stolen has asked me to help him. He spoke very well and I think he may be correct in what he says. What would you do my king?”
“Do not answer his talk,” said the king, “but make sure that you put his words in writing and bring them to me. See that he and his wife and children are supplied with food and drink, but do not let him know who provides it.”
The Lord Steward did as the king had commanded him. He gave to the peasant bread and beer and to his wife enough corn to feed herself and her children. Although the sekti was very grateful he didn’t know where the food was coming from. And he still wanted his donkeys, salt, rushes and natron back.
So for a second time the peasant came to the high lord and asked him to help; and he came a third time. On the third time, the High Lord commanded that he be beaten with sticks, to see whether he would stop coming. But no, the sekhti came a fourth, a fifth, a sixth time, always speaking cleverly and kindly. The High lord kept ignoring him but the sekhti did not despair and he came again a ninth time. And on the ninth time he called, the high lord sent two of his servants to the sekhti, and the peasant was terrified, for he feared that he was about to be beaten once more. The message, however, was a different one. At last the peasant had convinced the high lord that he may have been treated badly by Tehuti. He then wrote sekhti’s claims on clean papyrus and sent it to the king, as the king had commanded. Neb-ka-n-ra also liked the way the sekhti had spoken. However, he left the judgement to the high lord.
Egyptian palace slide
The High lord decided to take away all Tehuti’s money, lands and titles and gave them to the sekhti, who moved to the king’s palace with all his family. Afterwards the sekhti became the chief adviser of King Neb-ka-n-ra, and was greatly loved by the king and all the people.