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  • Skribentens bildSuzanne Axelsson

The Story of a stone

This post was first written while I was in Jenin, Palestine, holding play workshops. What I did not realise then when I wrote it was that it would inspire a whole series of posts labelled "The story of.." based on the fact that when we tell our stories we need to be aware that they are our own perspective... and to be a part of a sustainable world where social sustainability is an important part of that, we need to consider the other stories... that we see the same event in different ways...

The session I write about here was my second with the educators from the introduction/beginners course... it started with a look at child development with a focus on neuroscience... learning about the brain and how we can be better educators by understanding how the brain works, reacts and learns. This is especially important for children that are more exposed to trauma... I used the book "The Whole Brain Child" by Dr Daniel Siegel and Dr Tina Payne Bryson as a basis for exploring this area... and also Alison Gopnik will be shared as a TEDtalk in the group we have on facebook where we can reflect and share more. Translating always means that time is as never as long as you want it to share as much as you want... so the group is a great way to extend the learning and reflection. The learning is not just when we meet in the group, but whenever they have time to go to the group and reflect on the resources I share there... including Stuart Shanker's website about self-regulating. Another great tool for them to use in their work with children here in Palestine. of course when talking about brain research, about stress and about trauma then their own stories fill the room... stories of 16 year olds being in prison for 3 months and when they left prison their skin was marked with cigarette burns and their soul marked by the need not to be touched... she recounted the story of how a soldier started to harass her physically and her reaction was to bite to protect herself - the next thing she remembered is waking up in hospital connected to tubes and machines. We cried together. These are stories beyond my comprehension... a top student who made the mistake of running at the wrong time... in a way it reminds me of the stories from the USA - of Black Lives Matter and the young black males told not to run from the police for the risk of being shot. it makes me think that we, who work as educators, have so much power... power to let these things continue as they are... or the power to help make change by encouraging the children to listen, to value each other, to respect and also to have the courage to do the right thing. Each educator was asked to bring three stones... and also to talk about why they had selected these stones... stones are a powerful symbol in Palestine and this was made obvious by the fact that several commented that they are not the type that have stones or pick up stones as stones are thrown in resistance - during the Infitadas - I was told that during the first infitada the men would write their names on the stones that they threw at the soldiers... One educators told the story of her stone that came from the school yard of her primary school and served as a reminder of that first day when she did not recognise her name being called out... the reason being that during the first infitada when she was a very young child she had become separated from her family and was taken in by another family who gave her a different name - 2 months later she was reunited with her family and they continued with this new name (I assume to help deal with the trauma)... but the school called out her birth name and this is why she did not recognise it. Many stones were collected because they reminded of the sea, of times with the family... of precious moments... some were collected last minute and we laughed together. Some were collected with suspicion - why on earth is she making us collect stones... Why on earth indeed... Firstly I want the educators to see things around them in a new way... stones have the potential to be used in so many different ways and to provide learning and play opportunities. Secondly... for them to realise you do not have to spend lots of money to offer a good learning/play experience thirdly... because it is time to reclaim the stone and give it a positive reputation and not just the single story of "weapon" After playing and exploring learning potential of stones, and adding other materials (and I scaffolded by asking questions and encouraging new ways of thinking) the teachers were pleased with this new learning material (not new to all the educators though). It is important to listen to everybody's story - to understand where each person comes from, their history and how they base their present and plan their future. When supporting learning listening to the stories are essential to understand how they learn... regardless of the learner being an adult or a child. We need to listen with an open heart, with respect and with empathy. Only then do we have the chance to prevent the danger of the single story... to be open to all the stories that are on offer...

Below is a film I highly recommend you watch... in fact I think it is a film EVERYONE should watch. To understand the need to listen to each other. To tell stories, to listen to stories... and not to simply accept the first story you hear as truth.

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