India is a land of storytelling, with each state having its distinct style like the bhajana, villadichampattu, and burra katha. However, this once-popular form of education and entertainment is gradually losing its stronghold owing to newer means of leisure and learning. But Story Ghar is advocating learning through storytelling, by taking it up as an effective educational and cultural tool in all spheres of education.
"Storytelling makes teaching dramatic and interactive, hence the learning process fun. Subjects like history, geography, environmental science become more interesting if the teacher integrates storytelling in her pedagogy. For example, while teaching history, if I dress up, walk and talk like Emperor Akbar, children will be attentive; similarly in an environment science class, if I ask the students to sow seeds, name it and take care of it, they will be able to associate better," says Jaishree Sethi, creative director.
Launched in April last year, Story Ghar designs and direct stage productions, work with schools and also organise independent events. It intends to train educators and conduct workshops and sessions. It was born after Sethi was exposed to the art form in California while she was there to spearhead the programming of a Bollywood radio station.
"Storytelling is a powerful medium that works well towards instilling values. The best part about this form is that it is hassle free and does not demand technology. It's a personal medium and connects with children and adults alike on an emotional level," she says.
In an attempt to ignite visual and imaginative thinking, Story Ghar uses dramatised narration, body movements, music/singing, hand puppets and masks while telling a story. According to Sethi, their sessions are targeted to improve language, social and interpersonal skills, stage confidence, public speaking, etiquette, team work, leadership skills, creativity, problem solving, crisis management, and critical thinking.
"Our storytelling sessions work on a specifically designed module or a lesson plan that includes a warm up activity, story narration and a follow-up activity. While I am working with NGO's and doctors (who work with young women), I take up case studies and make stories out of them. But for special sessions with children, I generally adapt folklore, books, and stories from various cultures and Indianise them," she explains.
Enthralling students with stories like Emperor and his New Clothes, an adaptation of Germn folktale Bremen Town Musicians, and Premchand's Eidgah, Story Ghar's next event is scheduled for 19th January.