for the Classroom 4
by Michael Berman
Storytelling for the Classroom 1
for the Classroom 2
for the Classroom 3
much as we rant and rave about the burdens we carry, the fact
of the matter is that nine times out of ten they are largely
of our own making, as the following Georgian folk tale illustrates:
happened or it did not happen - in a certain land there
lived a cattle-breeder. He was honest, hardworking,
and he never offended anybody. All his animals grazed
contentedly without being watched, and neither beast
nor man hurt them, since he had no enemies.
that same land lived a certain lazybones and idler.
He did not do anything. While others were working, he
was sleeping, so that he lived in poverty and only blamed
it on his fate.
one day that cattle-breeder met him. He greeted the
poor man and asked, "how's life with you, friend?"
sort of life do I have?", he began to moan and
groan, "I'm dying of hunger".
go to my place", said the cattle-breeder. "Work
for me for a year and I'll give you a pair of good oxen.
Then you can plough and sow your own field, and you'll
idler thought, "Why work for him to overstrain
myself for a pair of oxen? I might as well help myself
and just take whatever I want. They say that the cattle
even graze without being watched; so who's going to
climbed into the mountains, and he saw the cattle scattered
across the land, but of herdsmen, there was none. He
looked at this wealth, and his heart became just sick
with envy. He had just got close when suddenly something
began to ring, and all the animals started to run to
the other side of the meadow where they gathered together
in one place.
idler also approached. He saw, standing in the middle
of the cattle, a tiny little man. And the cows and sheep
were gathered all around him. Some licked his face,
some his hand, and he caressed them and stroked their
idler was surprised, and he asked, "Who are you?
What sort of creature are you? Where have you been and
where did you suddenly appear from?"
the fortune of the master of this herd", says the
little man. "However, I also look after all his
cattle, and I don't let anybody disturb them".
where then is my fortune?", asked the poor man.
fortune can be found on such and such a mountain under
such and such a bush", says this little man.
will I find my fortune if I go there?"
ever shouldn't you find him, certainly you'll find him!",
said the little man.
the idler got to the mountain indicated. He searched
and searched for his fortune, but no way could he find
it. He got tired, and he lay down in distress under
a tree and dozed off. He slept through really soundly
and when he woke up the sun was already setting. Suddenly
he heard somebody sighing. He got up and looked: "Who
is it sighing like that?" He saw, lying under bush,
a little man: just skin and bone. He was lying there,
groaning, and sighing.
are you? What sort of creature are you and why are you
lying about here?", asked the idler.
I'm your fortune", said the little man.
you, lazybones!", the idler said angrily. "Whatever
sort of fortune are you to me if all you do is lie here
and groan? I'm dying of hunger, and you make a habit
of lying down; and as for thinking about me, you don't
think at all."
a good man", said this fortune. "You lie down
and sleep, and I lie down and sleep. You sit and do
nothing, and I do even more so. Get up and make some
effort! Do some work, and I'll reward you. And your
life will change for the better"
the poor man finally got the message and began to work.
And for the first time in his life he stood on his own
two feet. He got married, started a family of his own
and began to live free of cares.
last tale in this section comes from Germany and helps us
to appreciate everything we have to be thankful for. You might
like to use the opportunity to introduce the Guatemalan tradition
of using of Worry Dolls to deal with problems. A different
problem can be assigned to each doll before you go to sleep
at night and they can be placed under your pillow while you
sleep to deal with them. You are allowed a maximum of five!
once was a woman who had so many problems and so many
worries that at times she felt she had more troubles
than anyone else in the world!
there was one friend she knew who had quite
a large share of troubles herself. But this friend seemed
to be able to move through her troubles and come out
the other side with her head still held high. The more
the woman thought about her friend, the more she began
to think "I could ask her to tell me how she deals
with her problems and then I'd know how to deal with
woman became convinced that this was the answer - so
one day she knocked on her friend's door and the friend
invited her in. They sat down and chatted together while
they had a cup of tea. By and by the visitor told the
friend why she had come to visit.
but I can't tell you how to deal with your own problems"
the friend told her, "only you know the right choices
to make for yourself." The visitor's face looked
so crestfallen that the friend added "But I could
tell you some advice that someone once gave me that
would you? Could you?" the visitor encouraged her.
the friend answered. "Why don't you let that part
of yourself (gesture to self) that is connected to all
that is (gesture to above and beyond) take over caring
for your troubles?"
wasn't the kind of advice that she had expected. The
visitor stayed a bit longer chatting, then she said
goodbye to her friend and began walking home. On the
way home she thought "I really have tried everything
else I can think of - so what have I got to lose?"
that night, when everyone else was asleep, she shut
her door, got into bed, sat there and said "That
part of me (gesture to self) that is connected to all
that is (gesture to above and beyond)
help me with my troubles. I don't know what else to
she supposed she must be done, so she turned out her
light, pulled up the covers and fell asleep
that night she dreamed a dream
She found herself
in a vast candlelit cavern, surrounded by gray bundles
of all shapes and sizes, as far as she could see. Walking
towards her was a woman with flowing long white hair
and dressed in a long dark cape. "Who are you?"
asked the dreamer "and what is this place?"
is the cave of the bundles of troubles and I'm the Keeper
of the cave."
the Keeper explained, "each person who walks the
earth carries a bundle of trouble on their left shoulder."
The dreamer turned to look and there was a grey bundle
on her left shoulder - it had been there all this time
and she never noticed! "If you wish," the
keeper continued, "you can take your bundle down
and exchange it for another."
I can?" The woman lowered the bundle from her left
shoulder. Oh it felt so good to put it down. Then she
began picking up different bundles, feeling their weight
and trying them on for size. She did this for hours
until finally she said "Can I take this one? This
one feels just right."
the Keeper said, "but first, why don't you open
it up and look inside?"
the woman put the bag down, pulled on the grey drawstrings
and looked inside. "But these are the same troubles
I brought in here!" The Keeper of the cave smiled
softly and nodded. "That's usually what happens,
but don't despair, for there's another bundle on your
right shoulder that should help lighten your load."
woman turned and saw another bundle on her right shoulder.
It had been there all this time and she never noticed!
Only this bundle was woven of silver and gold threads
and it sparkled like a diamond in the sunlight. The
Keeper spoke - "Why don't you take down that bundle,
and look inside?" So the woman did. The bundle
was light as down. She pulled the silver and gold strings
and looked inside. And there were all of her experiences
and all that she had learned. There were her talents,
her gifts, her hopes and opportunities yet to come.
The woman felt her heart fill with joy and she looked
up to thank the keeper of the cave. But the Keeper of
the cave was gone. All the grey bundles were gone. The
cave was gone. And she found herself sitting up in her
own bed with the morning sun streaming through the window,
shining in her face.
Pre-listening: The story is about someone who has a
lot of problems and doesn't know how to deal with them. What
techniques do you have for dealing with your problems? Now
listen to the tale to find out how the person in the story
learnt how to deal with hers.
While-listening: Pause after the line "So the
woman put the bag down, pulled on the grey drawstrings and
looked inside" and ask the listeners to predict what
she found in the first bag.
Pause after the line "She pulled the silver and gold
strings and looked inside" and ask the listeners to predict
what she found in the second bag she opened.
Allow each of the listeners to take a moment to imagine what
would be in their bundle of blessings and take turns sharing
whatever they feel comfortable to tell is in their bag. If
people list only other persons in their life, you could invite
them to look again for a moment and notice the personal attributes
and possibilities that are in their bag as well.
a travelling monk agreed to carry a woman across a rushing
river despite his vows not to look at or touch women. He set
her down on the far side and continued along the road with
his fellow monk. After a good distance his companion could
no longer contain his anger, "How could you break our
vows and carry that woman?" He asked. The monk replied,
"I put her down way back there, but I see that you're
still carrying her."
story is a helpful metaphor for looking at how to manage stress
and can be used to reinforce the massage in Bundles. It can
allow us to call into question the "vows" by which
we judge ourselves and to be more forgiving. Then hopefully,
like the monk, having done his best in the situation, we can
let go of the past and move on.
|Michael Berman is currently a research student at the University of Wales, Lampeter, and working part-time as a teacher at Oxford House College in London. Publications include A Multiple Intelligences Road to an ELT Classroom and The Power of Metaphor for Crown House Publishing and The Shaman and the Storyteller for Superscript. Michael has been involved in TESOL for over thirty years and has given presentations at Conferences in Austria, Azerbaijan, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey, and the Ukraine.
for the Classroom 1
for the Classroom 2
for the Classroom 3
article 'Warrior, Settler or Nomad?'
'A Beginner's Guide To Storytelling lesson plan'
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