Since the box can stay for only a short while, I decided to keep it close to where I live and find a class educated by a storyteller. Ilan Inbar, a colleague of mine who educates an 8 grade class here, agreed to collaborate. After presenting the idea to the school’s headmaster and relevant staff he got their permission together with the request to present the project to both 8 grade classes.
We decided to start before the box arrived so we will have enough time to go through any preliminary procedures and a minimal worthwhile process. The date was set and I came to school to meet the kids. Both classes gathered in one room. Ilan and I prepared a meeting plan, decided what we want to tell them and in what way. I spoke a little, Ilan then told a story and I asked the kids for observations “what is this about? How does storytelling work” I got some answers, some of them really good but the general atmosphere was difficult. I told a story and as usual when stories are told – they were hooked. We spoke about the benefits – and again, the response was very dull.
There was this big gap between the level of involvement while listening to storytelling and the ability to communicate the idea of participating in a project which is about storytelling. I wanted to hear their thoughts and asked for them. In a way, I interpreted their body language and preliminary reactions as, “Duuuh, not cool…” but when they started answering something else was revealed. “I can’t” “I’m not able to” “I don’t know how to” “I don’t have the talent to” “I don’t have” etc.
This community, if can be called a community, is highly competitive. Many families are very able financially, one or both parents working in the HighTech industries. Almost everything in these kids daily life is fast-going, competitive, mercy less in a way, myself.com. They were afraid. I promised Ilan and I will give them everything we know in means of knowledge, support and hand holding. If this has turned out to be a challenge, we were here to help them walk through it.
The meeting was over. Ilan was exhausted. He has been meeting this behavior coming from them since the first day of this school year, but he was hoping storytelling and an international project would get something else out of them. On the other hand and quite obviously, we had no intention to give up so quickly. We realized the request to present the idea to the larger group was a mistake. Ilan decided to speak again with the kids, this time only to his class and with the intention to invite some of them to a privet talk. Especially those he saw as able concerning the task at hand.
He did. By now, the box was already on its way from Ireland. I arrived to school a week later to meet Ilan’s class. Again they were somewhat uneasy with the idea. I told them my experience from the previous meeting. They listened with heart. Ilan asked those who really don’t feel like they would like to be part of this to join the other class for the next hour. Some of the kids got up and left and he was ok with it. Some stayed. Some were curious to see who will stay and some who walked out were called back by him. “Give it a try,” he said, “I think you can be great with this stuff,” and they stayed. Eventually we had a group of fifteen in the room.