Academic journal article Literacy Learning: The Middle Years

Story Journey and Critical Thinking: An Author's Reflections

Academic journal article Literacy Learning: The Middle Years

Story Journey and Critical Thinking: An Author's Reflections

Article excerpt

Story journey and critical thinking through Susanne Gervay's books

Challenges are faced by each of us, every day of our life.... Susanne Gervay's novel, Butterflies ... in particular it is about the emotions and consequences faced by one individual who has been given the opportunity to gain strength and build character around her life.

Life is often not easy, can often by perceived as cruel and can be questioned. However, Butterflies shows that life is also full of many wonderful people and that those most important to each of us are our family and friends who are there with us through all our 'challenges'

Louise Sauvage OAM

World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability 2000

1999 Australian Female Athlete of the Year.

Louise Sauvage's comments about my book Butterflies could also have applied to John Marsden's award winning novel So Much to Tell about a girl locked into silence until her reconciliation with her parents; or Christobel Mattingley's moving story of a refugee family in Bosnia, No Guns for Asmir; or Colin Thiele's revelation of heroism of a young girl with rheumatoid arthritis in Jodie's Journey; or Wendy Orr's narrative, Peeling The Onion, which poignantly explores a teenager's struggles with severe injuries from a car accident.

Readers through powerful literature can become fellow travellers in story journey, enabling them to identify with other people and the challenges of life. Literacy incorporates critical thinking through story journey, in a way where readers can gain insight, develop their strategies for conflict resolution, question, seek, resolve, travel the many steps towards understanding and the pursuit of knowledge.

As a specialist in child growth and development, a parent and a children's and young adult author, I write books to engage, entertain and develop constructs of critical thinking, where youth can move towards developing their self-concept; increase their understanding of human behaviour and motivations; provide a way to find interests outside of self; achieve emotional understanding; open the way to self empowerment and decision making; and share experiences.

Young people read differently to adults, where if a book 'speaks' to them, they will read and re-read that book, testing it against their developing value system, incorporating concepts that they feel are relevant to who they are. So story journey can be a powerful and effective methodology towards critical thinking.

I wrote I Am Jack when I discovered that my son Jack, who was 11 years old then, was being bullied at school. I couldn't believe that he didn't tell me. That I didn't know or see the signs. I felt I had failed my son even though my children are pivotal to my life. My son had more courage than I had. Every day he went to school knowing that he had to face bullying. He was scared and felt alone. Why didn't he tell me? I was a sole parent then, worked, was tired a lot of the time. He wanted to be brave, not put more pressure on me. That was one reason, but there were others too, such as inexperience in dealing with aggression, fear of the reaction if he sought help, disempowerment.

As a parent, we want to protect our children, keep them safe. As teachers we want our children to learn in a safe environment. Bullying makes school a dangerous place rather than a place where children socialise and learn.

It took six months for my son to win against bullying with the support of myself, his family, teacher, school, the other children and of course Jack. From that he has become a more secure person. He knows that the world can be fair and safe. He trusts the system. He feels positive about himself, has friends, learns and embraces the world.

The whole school won too. The teachers and school, the other children and parents were also empowered by their actions where they changed the environment of bullying within their school. …

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