21 May 2007
Transition Tales – Introducing Peak Oil into Schools # Session 3.
On the final day of the three day pilot **Transition Tales** programme we did at King Edward VI Community College in Totnes (I wasn’t at the first one, I’ll ask someone else to write that one up) we turned to storytelling. The day was facilitated by Chris Salisbury of [Wildwise](http://www.wildwise.co.uk), a well known and highly gifted local storyteller. He began by introducing the art of storytelling and where it came from, how we are all storytellers, and how our culture has always been built on the telling of stories. This led into a series of exercises that were designed to free up the students’ creative expression and imagination. They ran as follows;
**1. Stick Stories.**
The students divided into groups of 5, and each was given a stick, just a normal stick you might find under any tree. The students were then given 1 minute to talk about the stick, without hesistation, deviation or repetition, passing to the next person after the minute. They started by just talking about the stick, but after a few goes, amazing tales began to emerge!
**2. Tell the Biggest Lie!**
Next, students were invited to choose any object from around the classroom, and then to tell outrageous lies about it and what it is for. The outrageous and ludicrous mixed with the mundane and occasionally outrageous…
**3. What Are You Doing?**
In the next activity, the students got into pairs, one had to mime an activity and the other had to ask what they were doing. The mimer had to reply with another entirely different activity that the questioner then had to mime out. This went backwards and forwards for a while.
**4. “In the city of Rome there was a Street….”**
This activity was like the old game about “I went to the market and I bought…”, where you say one thing you got at the market, the next person has to say yours and then add their own, and so on around the group, getting longer and longer each time. The rule of this version was that you were to add things that were observations, descriptions, rather than verbs, so that rather than telling a story, you were building up a descriptive picture of a scene.
**5. The Black Box.**
Sitting in pairs, students were asked to imagine a black box between them, and to begin with, they went round the group, reaching in their hands and pulling out something. They were asked not to think about it too much, to have no idea in mind what was in the box when they started to put their hand in, and just see what emerges. The second refinement to this was that you were to put your hand in, draw something out, and then the other person was to draw a story about the object out of you by asking questions, to which you could reply in the most fantastic ways…. so that together you created a story about the object.
**The News from 2030.**
Groups of around 5 then formed, and were asked to devise a TV news item from a powered-down Totnes in 2030. They could do news bulletins, interviews, the weather, whatever. This was really go to be the proof of the pudding in terms of whether they had really engaged with the previous two days. What they came up with was fantastic. We filmed all the ‘broadcasts’, and are hoping to edit them to put them on the net.
One group did a ‘Top Gear’ style car review of the latest transport sensation in Totnes, which consisted of hopping on his friend’s back and having a piggyback round the room. Another group did the weather (“cloudy and windy, so if you have solar panels, bad luck, you’ll have to wait until tomorrow to do your washing, if you’ve got a wind turbine, you’ll have a great day”) and one group of girls all dressed up in Edwardian dresses with lace parasols and bonnets and said that they didn’t need suncream anymore because they used parasols instead.
It went really well, they engaged in the process as we had hoped. We learnt much from this pilot that will go into shaping a more developed version to be run in the Autumn. My initial thought is that presenting peak oil in a positive way, and allowing lots of ‘digestion time’ worked really well.