chapter  13
Oral storytelling in education
Pages 9

This chapter differs from most of the rest of the book. It is about how stories are conveyed rather than the content or type of story. It is about what I call ‘storytelling’, the oral telling or retelling of a story by one person to others. As I said in Chapter 1, others use the word in a broader context. Storytelling is an old skill that still has a place in modern life, and in this chapter I will argue that there is a place for learning to tell oral stories in advanced education for learners and for teachers. Oral storytelling has several characteristics. There is, first, the directness of

voice (Rosen, 2009). Voice is used, of course, when stories are read out loud, so the second issue is the value of the oral telling – in Irish terms, the ‘craic’. Harrett (2008) explores the difference between storytelling and story reading and seems to end up by describing in undefinable words the unspoken qualities of oral storytelling as opposed to reading. She talks of the ‘magic – the indefinable spark that binds speaker and listeners in a shared journey through imagination’. I have suggested that we cannot define everything in words – which I think she demonstrates! There are three sections to this chapter. In the first section I consider why

storytelling is a capacity that might be usefully learned in formal educational contexts and professional development (p. 154). There are different rationales for teachers’ and students’ learning. The second section provides a background to oral storytelling and its place in current times (p. 154) and the in the third section I provide an introduction to how oral storytelling ‘works’ – and how a best to learn how to tell oral stories (p. 155). Since I first wrote this book, I have developed two tutor packs on oral

storytelling. They will be available for free downloading online, one from the ESCalate website ( – for use with any discipline students), and the other from specifically for media students. Both indclude video demonstrations of oral storytelling (Moon 2010a; 2010b).