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Storytelling in Ghana: Reflection

ashley's picture

Researching storytelling in Ghana for our presentation was an interesting learning experience, although there were details that I was previously aware of, predominantly that the act tended to be verbal rather than written. I did find it of interest that being a storyteller is considered being a profession, it made me think of the differences in what we value in this society in comparison. We value reading and literacy, but it is of higher value to be able to write stories down than it is to pass stories on verbally. In spoken word poetry we can see value placed on verbal storytelling, but that art form is valued by a few and is far from being universally appreciated. Why is that we value one form of transmitting knowledge, experiences and stories over another?

On another note, I work at a preschool and had previously seen and read Anansi books to the children from the school’s collection. I had not known that these stories were traditionally African until we did our research. I think it’s cool that the school incorporates a variety of books into what is at the students’ disposal. And thinking about the purpose of the Ghanaian stories, which was described as being the way to teach values, etc. to the younger generation, I just thought about the children’s books at the preschool and how they too send messages to the kids. In particular, during times when certain students are having trouble sharing or getting upset with one another and saying they only want to play with so-and-so, the story during circle time will reflect a character who also struggles with that issue and demonstrates how one can resolve such a situation. It teaches students ‘proper codes of conduct’.


alesnick's picture

literacy learning as a socializing force?

Both of your observations here -- about the ranking of written over oral storytelling and about the moral teachings encoded in children's books -- point to the uses of literature to socialize the young into patterned ways of thinking and judging.  It seems that these patterns often serve the function of assigning and explaining different roles in society/different degrees of power and authority.  What do you think?