One of the joys of being a teacher, is having an audience for my storytelling. At Broomfield, I have recounted many stories, (some with more embellishment than others!). I enjoy passing on hidden morals and revel in the many questions that follow. From my narrow escape from a bear in the Colorado mountains, a close call with an irritated spider that could run on water in the Amazon, to the time when my labrador, Lupin, was ambushed by a giant toad on a farm in Dorset, all these stories are designed to entertain while teaching important lessons about life.
Located in the Ardèche in France, the Chauvet cave system holds possibly the oldest representation of storytelling, dating back 36,000 years. These cave paintings are believed to tell a mix of stories, some involving animals kept as pets, perhaps evidencing that early humans also had domesticated companions, and others depicting a natural disaster, possibly a volcanic eruption. It is clear that, as humans, we have been passing down stories for millennia and I find it fascinating that we all still love hearing, watching and reading stories today. It is more obvious now, with the exposure of fake news, that what we are told is not always the exact truth, but my feeling is that even some of these early cave paintings, had elements of creative license woven into the mix.
I was fortunate enough to have dinner last Friday with the truly wonderful author and poet, Sir Michael Morpurgo. He has written over 130 books, and he read excerpts from some during the evening, along with a recent poem about the devastating war in Ukraine which was very moving. What struck me was how he gathers inspiration by spending time with the people around him; those in his village, his family and even those he meets in the pub. In listening to the stories of others he finds material and ideas which form part of his own more elaborate plots, settings and characterisations. From sea shanties to nursery rhymes, Greek Myths and native folklore, stories are all around us. In mastering his craft, Michael Morpurgo has taught millions of us all kinds of important lessons. We all have our own wonderful stories to tell and I believe school should encourage children to develop the skills to tell their story well. They will grow in confidence as they share imaginative ideas and sharing tales will build togetherness and community.
With the support of the PTA, Broomfield has welcomed in many authors and poets over the years, to share information about their art, their sources of inspiration and how to bring drama and excitement into their writing. This on going partnership allows us to extend our already broad curriculum with a wealth of storytelling experts.
I wish you all a wonderful Easter break, one which I hope is both fun and restful. I hope you find time to sit down as a family and share your own stories and I look forward to hearing them retold by the children on their return to school in April.