The Golden Thread: Storytelling in Teaching and Learning

By Dworkin, Victoria G. | Marvels & Tales, July 1, 2009 | Go to article overview

The Golden Thread: Storytelling in Teaching and Learning


Dworkin, Victoria G., Marvels & Tales


The Golden Thread: Storytelling in Teaching and Learning. By Susan Danojj. Kingston, NJ: Storytelling Arts Press, 2006. 1 75 pp.

Susan Danoff has produced a small, sparkling gem of a book that addresses not so much the "how to" as the why of storytelling in the school curriculum. She explores how storytelling operates as an integral part of the learning process, arguing that "storytelling is a method of teaching, a way to gain trust, to communicate effectively, to inspire imaginative thinking, and to provide a foundation for the thinking that is basic to literacy" (xv). Building trust and communication skills are essential to establishing a learning environment; imaginative thinking enables "resourcefulness in dealing with new or unusual experiences" (89), a significant part of the learning process; and the skills involved in story listening, visualization, reflecting, and retelling are core elements of literacy development. Danoff describes her early realization, when she tutored as a teenager, that one of her students, a self-acknowledged slow learner, had never realized "that letters were symbols and that words signified meaning" (18). She discovered that he thought reading was "magic" that some people could do and others couldn't. It took her many more years to learn the effectiveness of storytelling as a classroom tool to break the secret code and help students recognize the magic of reading for themselves - and to understand why storytelling contributes so much to the learning process. Educators are fortunate that in this book she passes on what she has learned.

Danoff's use of stories, both traditional and original, to establish the framework of her book suggests vividly how she incorporates her telling into teaching. The book is divided into six parts, each set off with an appropriately chosen story. She opens with an original story, "The Forgotten Gifts," which pays tribute to the creative arts of dance, song, and storytelling, more valuable by far than material goods; this is followed by an assertion that "every teacher can be a storyteller" (39). She explains processes involved in storytelling, either informal anecdotes or polished performance, and why folktales, in particular, are important tools for teaching narrative. The anecdotes she shares from her classroom experience support her argument that storytelling works.

A section on "Storytelling and Classroom Culture" follows, beginning with a vivid retelling of "The Tiger's Whisker," a Korean folktale of a woman who needs patience and understanding to gain the trust of a tiger in order to communicate with her troubled husband. Danoff then explains how storytelling can be used to build a sense of community, setting the stage for learning to take place. Oral storytelling can be especially effective in drawing in students with differing learning styles, who may have trouble learning through more conventional teaching methods.

Part 3 is an ardent tribute to the powers of the imagination, the way storytelling enables imaginative play among listeners, and the connection between imaginative play and effective learning. She draws parallels between children's use of the imagination and the Scottish folktale "The Lost Child," in which a mother wins her child back after it is stolen by the Sidh, who love beauty but lack the power to create. Creative use of imagination is an important human skill, taught through stories. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Golden Thread: Storytelling in Teaching and Learning
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.