Footprints of the past - Sukhpreet Kaur

Today's turning point

“Tell me a fact, and I’ll learn. Tell me the truth, and I’ll believe. But tell me a story, and it will live in my heart forever.” – Indian Proverb.

Storytelling is a unique way to enable students to understand, respect, connect, and appreciate different cultures and promote a positive attitude in them. It is the art of touching the students' soul and helping them listen to their inner voice. It is a natural mode of thinking. Before our formal education begins, we start learning from Aesop’s fables, fairy tales, or family history. 

During my student life, storytelling was a culture of my family. Every Sunday, there was a session of storytelling by my parents. Stories were of different types and on different topics. It was a magical tool and a guiding spirit for us. 

I, too, love to narrate stories to my students. One day I narrated the following story to my students:

In the past, in our country, it was a custom for shoe-makers to keep an empty chair outside their shops in the morning. As soon as the first customer would arrive, the shopkeeper, after selling the pair of shoes, would lift the chair and take it inside the shop. When the next customer would come to the same shop, the shopkeeper would look around the market and point to a shop with a chair still placed outside and ask the customer to purchase from that shop with the assurance that he will get what he needs.

If the customer would ask why the shoemaker is losing his earnings for someone else, he will say that I have already got my first earning of the day (bohni - in Hindi) and my fellow members need to earn for the day. 

An empty chair outside a shop was a sign that the shopkeeper had not received any customer yet, and all the shoemakers had an understanding amongst them that they have to ensure that each and every one of them must get at least one customer for the day. This ensured that they had a strong community bond, and all of them grew together.

I observed silence in the class. The moment I was about to speak, students started asking me thought-provoking questions like--

  • Do such people really exist? 

  • Can we inspire someone? 

  • Can we change the world the way we want for the betterment of mankind?

  • Will our elders listen to us?

I was quiet for a second, and then we shared our feelings with each other. 

 I believe that a story can guide and help students

  • to connect with their teacher 

  • to enhance their listening skills

  • to change their thought process 

  • to reflect

  • get inspiration for the future 

  • to promote a feeling of well-being 

  • to relax their body, mind and soul

  • increase willingness to communicate their thoughts and feelings

  • for active participation 

  • enhance their verbal proficiency

  • to use imagination, creativity, critical thinking

  • to learn cooperation

  • to bridge the gap of past and present

  • to share their opinions and experiences willingly

So, do share your stories and experiences of your teaching life and inspire all of us. 

Sukhpreet Kaur
Gyanshree School, Noida

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