Sunday, 26 April 2015

Providing children with tools to tell their stories

My inspiration today is an amazing post by Eric Spreng, an international school teacher at the International School of Ouagadougou (the capital of Burkina Faso). I wish there were more international school teachers like him. I wish I had teachers like him when I grew up in Africa.

He teaches to promote student voice, he provides the students with tools they need to articulate themselves and their stories, especially when these stories challenge the dominate narratives that would marginalize them. I think this is what all children need but especiallt third culture kids. They need tools to articulate themselves. They need tools to be able to tell their story in what ever environment or situation they are.

Recently I came across this quote and I believe it is so true.

"All sorrows can be borne if you put them into a story or tell a story about them" these are words by Karen Blixen, the author of the book "Out of Africa".

Third culture kids grow up often moving from country to country with their parents. It can be very exciting and adventerous but the other side of the coin is that they often have to depart and leave friends and familiar places. They often have to say goodbyes. These moments can be painful and sad. If they are equipped with tools to tell their stories it could be great help for them in life. It will make them more resilient and more able to thrive in this global world.

Not only teachers can teach kids the importance of their stories, but we as parents can teach our
Photo by DrieCulturen, taken at Schiphol
children too. Decades of research has shown that most happy families communicate effectively. It means that as a family you tell a positive story about yourselves. If you want a happier family, create, refine and retell the story of your family's positive moments and your ability to bounce back from difficult ones. Read more on this topic in the article The Stories that Bind Us.

So back to Eric Spreng's post. He says: "From the beginning of the year, I make it clear that student voice is one of our great resources, that students' diverse experiences and cultures are assests to us as a community of learners. He gives examples of students that develop their own voice, do read his post called "Why I teach: Voice, Discourse and Empathy."

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