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Jackie Baldwin jackie@story-lovers.com
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The Art of Storytelling - A Popular Tool Used by Native Americans for Communicating Environmental Messages

From the EETAP (Environmental Education and Training Partnership) Resource Library, May 1996

Keywords: elementary school, middle school


Storytelling has traditionally been a pleasant channel of communication between the young and the old, the teller and the listener, and the learner and the teacher. It is an interesting combination of fiction and non fiction which conveys meaningful messages to the listeners. If used in an innovative fashion, storytelling can be a valuable channel for those educators who use non formal methods for teaching.

The art of story telling has cultural roots and this can be employed to teach a culturally pluralistic curriculum. Stories can be selected from a variety of sources and used to match lesson objectives. Criteria for selecting stories should include the authenticity of cultural representation, the amount of cultural information, appropriateness, and the estimated interest of the learner, be it a child or an adult. The stories told can be used for communicating values education to young learners who can then learn to appreciate, care for and interact with biodiversity all around us.

The tenets of environmental education, the synthesis of these tenets with the study of native cultures, and teaching positive social and environmental skills can also be addressed through storytelling.

For American indigenous peoples, oral tradition maintains each groupís cultural identity and world view; documents history; and links the groupís past, present, and future. Storytelling has been a major mode of passing moral values and teaching to children, as well as passing sacred and specialized knowledge to the next generation (Victro, 1994).

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