Bible Study Through Story Telling

Building Sound Theology Through Good Story Telling,

by Jessica Alexander

Excerpt (her article is on page 19)

“Simply the Story is a simple and creative method used to equip low literacy learners to join multiple literacy spectrums. The technique can reach into all age groups, among all social groups regardless of the ethnicity or economic status or religious background. Stories are taught and discussed through dramas, songs and conversaonal (sic).

Five minute stories are chosen.

The six step stage helps the listener to contemplate upon the story as he/she grasps the spiritual truths that lie within the story. The process includes the following steps:

1. Introduction- Defining the context to help familiarize oneself with the situation.

2. Narrating the story- The story is conveyed through actions, dramas or songs while the words of the Bible are the preferred script simultaneously.

3. Re-telling the story- This is to help the audience memorize. Usually a volunteer among the listeners is asked to participate so that they might get involved.

4. Lead through the story- Anything lacking or left behind is addressed by the five questions of who, what, where, when and how.

5. Spiritual observation- The listeners discover or draw spiritual conclusions for themselves wherein the characters and actions of both God and the people are considered upon. The story is observed by looking at the circumstances, characters (God as the chief person in every story), conversations, conducts, choices, and the consequences.

6. Spiritual application- There could be more than one application which is comprehended by the listener. Four questions lead the audience to narrow their comprehension of the application: i. looking at the results and changes ii. Analyzing if this happens today also iii. Seeking an example in the learner’s life or nearby iv. Demanding a practical move.

This technique presents a format that can be easily understood and remembered even by the least literate. It would, therefore, not be surprising that this mirrors the story telling method in the Bible which is 75% story telling narrative. STS encourages listeners to explore spiritual lessons they come across and helps them understand.”

It’s not exactly word for word the Charlotte Mason method, but there are distinct similarities- start by a bit of scaffolding or context as needed.  Tell the story using the words of the Bible (or other living book if you’re teaching a different subject).  Retell- or narrate, having one of the listeners narrate.

After that first narration is done, run through any significant mistakes or missed connections.

Most of the time, that’s the end for general narrations.

People worry about reviewing, but over time the students get a few little opportunities for review and a few incentives to read with more focused attention.  The same story will receive a bit of review attention at the next reading, when you begin by asking somebody to tell you what happened previously, or ‘where are we in this story?’.  It will likely receive another bit of review at other narrations when you ask, “What else does this remind you of?”  The student rummages through those memory banks we all have, in the process doing an internal quick review of other stories and events.  When you regularly use maps and timelines to place the stories you are reading, there will be other quick reminders and short reviews as they place a figure of King Saul next one of the prophet Samuel, or notice that King Ahab is far removed from Noah on your timeline, or that a story they are reading for literature comes from the same place as a hero tale they read previously, or that the battle they read about this week happened at the same time as a composer they studied another time, or that a scientific discovery they read about last month happened in the same country they are reading about in geography this week.  The biggest incentive to read with more attention and a sharper focus comes at the end of each term when you do exams.  Just as knowing that they can be called on to narrate at any time helps them keep their attention sharp, knowing that they will be asked about their work at the end of each term serves as a useful help and encouragement to sharper attention.

The fifth and sixth steps above are not necessary in a CM education, but they are not entirely outside the boundaries, either.   Note the exception she specifies here in volume 1:

“Long ago, I was in the habit of hearing this axiom quoted by a philosophical old friend: “The mind can know nothing save what it can produce in the form of an answer to a question put to the mind by itself.” I have failed to trace the saying to its source, but a conviction of its importance has been growing upon me during the last forty years. It tacitly prohibits questioning from

vol 6 pg 17

without; (this does not, of course, affect the Socratic use of questioning for purposes of moral conviction); and it is necessary to intellectual certainty, to the act of knowing. For example, to secure a conversation or an incident, we ‘go over it in our minds’; that is, the mind puts itself through the process of self-questioning which I have indicated. This is what happens in the narrating of a passage read: each new consecutive incident or statement arrives because the mind asks itself,––”What next?” For this reason it is important that only one reading should be allowed; efforts to memorise weaken the power of attention, the proper activity of the mind; if it is desirable to ask questions in order to emphasize certain points, these should be asked after and not before, or during, the act of narration.”

That is essentially what this method is doing with that final step, applying the Socratic use of questioning for the purposes of moral conviction.

It’s a useful approach to Bible lessons for the neighborhood children, for non-readers, for classes where the students may read, but perhaps not in the language of the teacher, and for just about anybody else.

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