Grandmother's tales need a come back

“Once upon a time there lived a king, he had a big palace with golden gates and silver chariots”. Long ago in a dark jungle lived a white elephant with the black fox and the blue bird and all together were partying etc. are the different toned stories that have been narrated to us by our grandparents and parents. Most of us have grown up with listening to stories of different types, which were an emotional connect for us to the outside world of imagination. Stories told in the younger days helped us learn important lessons of life.

The fantasy stories of the fairy tales, the Panchatantra moral stories of the good and bad, the mythological stories of the Pandavas, Jesus, Rama, Krishna, Allah, etc. are the different types and all these make room to explore different cultures; help to pass on the values and strengthen the ties among humans for a shared existence. For all this to happen, there should be much human interaction, which has always been a rich source of story telling

Story telling is both a science and an art and stories help in developing listening skills and critical thinking in children, it helps improving the vocabulary, enhances creativity, stimulate the thought process, and is interactive in nature. The science behind story telling says that it stimulates all the senses simultaneously in the brain and make the child reciprocate and confident.

In the current nuclear family system, where technology invades in the form of TV, cell phones, different audio visual gadgets the real human interaction is becoming less and less and the emotional connect between the children and the adults is getting weakened.

The stories narrated by grandma with emotions and voice modulation are more exciting and powerful than the animated versions but the exposure we are giving to our children, as parents and educators, leaves much to be desired. We need to rethink to what extent technology is helpful for creating stories and story-telling process and how to reduce the watching mode and increase the involving mode of storytelling that helps in improving intrapersonal and inter personal communication and enhance the child’s imagination and problem solving skills  

In the Anganwadies we are working with, story is an important and powerful component of the curricular activities for the holistic development of the child. The Anganwadi teachers generally narrate them orally, through dramatization, role play, shared reading, and read aloud sessions etc. The opportunities given to the children and the experience provided may vary from teacher to teacher but definitely some human interaction will happen and better than the digital non emotional nonhuman methods of engaging the child with stories which may block the developmental as compared to the human involved storytelling. It is a blessing in disguise that the Anganwadi children are less exposed to the digitalization as compared to the urban children. Maybe, the Anganwadi teachers and helpers are not that perfect in storytelling. But, when one listens to an Anganwadi teacher telling a story, one is convinced that the feelings and emotions experienced are all real and human compared to the digital approach.

Ramadevi wrote this article for Azim Premji Foundation.

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