Storytelling in Intercultural Education

Storytelling in Intercultural Education

Rosa Tiziana Bruno (Writer and Teacher, Italy)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-2122-0.ch030
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Storytelling is often employed as a teaching method. If storytelling is not used properly, however, teachers run the risk of banality and of delivering meaning-poor content. The author believes that storytelling in an intercultural context must privilege the aspects of relations and creativity. As a consequence, she started a narration practice entitled “Creative Writing Relay.” Schools and public bodies collaborated in this project; this spanned different country and continents, allowed for the creation of coexistence (a sort of conviviality) of differences workshops and for the forging of significant relations between children from different places. The site of the exchange was virtual, thanks to a purpose-built virtual environment. The results were positive: the children developed an ability to appreciate the relativity of different and distant points of view, acquired an interest in other cultures, and discovered new alphabets; in fact, they started to appreciate that differences can be an opportunity for enrichment.
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In a social environment characterized by the intertwining of different cultures, comparison and cooperation become the primary requirements. Common objectives to be sought together, as an antidote to the destructive struggle, in order to create a society in which everyone can achieve their full potential in a tolerant intercultural atmosphere.

The school, being a privileged place of encounter, can help develop ideas for works of research, study and sharing. These objectives, after all, are explicitly provided for by Italian law school (Legislative Decree n. 59/2004).

Storytelling can be a great tool for teaching intercultural issues. A simple and precise definition of the term “storytelling” can be borrowed from the text of Salomon who describes it as “the art of storytelling,” which is a form of communication as old as mankind and therefore belongs to all humanity, to every people and every culture. Barthes says, in fact, that “There are countless form of the narrative in the world” (1969).

Furthermore, if teaching tends towards the development of a global conscience, it must be based on intercultural exchanges, on direct relationships between pupils from different nations, and on the use of storytelling.

Storytelling, then, is an excellent basis for structuring courses about intercultural issues aiming to understand and deal with different cultures and civilizations. Through the process of narrating, we can explore the world all together. This helps us keep in mind that diversity is a richness.

Thanks to storytelling children can acknowledge a new awareness in communication and cooperation, in a creative and playful way. Moreover, with the support of activities such as cooperative learning and brainstorming children can freely express their thoughts and then easily discuss them with each other.

The application of cooperative learning in an intercultural project is important because it helps to create a climate of co-education within the class in which the teacher is no longer the main actor in the process, but he interacts in the confrontation without leading it. This enables pupils to increase their sense of responsibility in the learning process and feel a greater sense of “freedom” of expression.

Brainstorming is also very useful because it allows expressing ideas in a group, with no value judgment involved. Commenting others causes a chain reaction of ideas setting off creativity that is essential for the activity of storytelling.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Fable: A literary composition in narrative form.

Storytelling: The art of narrating, an account or recital of an event or a series of events, either true or fictitious.

Primary School: Institution in which children receive the first stage of compulsory education, known as primary or elementary.

Ecology of Learning: Study of the social, psychological and didactic environment in which learning takes place.

Relativity of Points of View: The possibility of appreciating and considering points of view that differ from one’s own.

Prejudice: Judgment based on pre-establshed opinions and on irrational feelings.

Stereotype: Preconceived idea, which is not based on direct experience.

Interculturality: Cultural enrichment and exchange between people of different cultures.

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