At the end of Term 4, the Wilderness Year 9 curriculum offered a Minimester with a focus on the art of storytelling. The experience was set within the key learning area of English and developed students’ skills in creating a personal narrative, empowering them to develop their unique voices and to speak to a live audience.
Over four days, the girls learnt about the art and craft of storytelling inspired by the education curriculum developed by ‘The Moth’: a non-profit organization that runs story-telling events across the world. The philosophy of ‘The Moth’ is that storytelling sits at the heart of our humanity and its mission is ‘to create a more empathetic world by connecting people through the power and humanity of true, personal storytelling’.
The Minimester storytelling theme, Tales of Gratitude, asked students to create a true five-minute story about their blessings, the times they thanked their lucky stars or a hand to hold when they needed it most. Ms Leah Carter, Head of English, launched the Minimester with a ‘Storytelling Slam’ in the Newman Theatre that modelled storytelling for the students. A group of staff members, both teaching and non-teaching, shared their own personal stories on the theme of gratitude.
The connection between health and wellness and girls developing their ‘voice’ was fostered each day through morning games in their Core Groups and oral drafting in Support Teams. Being physically active encouraged laughter as they started confiding in one another and recognising storytelling as a social art. Drafting their oral stories in small Support Teams built trust and encouraged them to take a risk. Mini-Slams, held in Core Groups, meant that every girl had the opportunity to find her voice as they shared their first and last lines and delivered a one-minute excerpt from their stories.
The week culminated in a ‘Story Slam’ where students from each of the Year 9 Core Groups performed their personal stories, unscripted. Some stories were funny, some had a message and some stories were vulnerable. As the spotlight drew us into the storyteller’s narrative, the atmosphere was dignified with empathy, respect and an appreciation for their act of bravery and resilience.
What did the girls think? Below are some excerpts from their journals.
I learned more about what people are grateful for and what their experiences were in their lives. I liked this session as it opened my eyes to look at the people in my core group differently.
My story matters to me because it was a time when I discovered how much education means to people in third world countries. Although I am not the hero of either of the stories I told, I am the person that changed because my perspective changed.
This story matters to me because it was a big change in my life, as I left home at a young age, and experienced things that I had never had before. Although I had a stressful start, I worked through it to realise what I am truly grateful for.
I feel great, it was really nice to see everyone share their stories with the class. The entire atmosphere was very nice as everyone was very attentive and non-judgmental. For some of the stories I really wanted to know what happened next.
I am not the hero in my story, my friend is. The support she gave me at that time was unimaginable and she changed my view towards friendship.
I was not the hero for this story, although there were a lot of other heroes in the story, for example, firefighters, farmers, supportive friends and even strangers. I have changed in the way that I view people, there were so many supportive people around us and I had no idea how the community would come together after this event, but now I have changed in how grateful I am towards everyone.
The story matters to me because it is one of the memorable experiences of my life. The City to Bay was an incredible experience which I would definitely like to do many more times. I believe that the story matters to me also because of all the training my dad and I did in the lead up to the race. It tells a running journey.