Three times a week our kindergarten gathers for Kric? Krac! (the name Originateve International has adopted from our Haitian Creole bards to honor the our gatherings around the globe for storytelling and song with children ages 0-12). On Mondays, we celebrate a wide breadth of folklore from a good number of English tunes gathered from every corner of the world where the Anglo-saxons long since carried their lore. Molly Malone, from the capital of Dublin, cries out among us trying to make a sale, just like "her father and mother before", on some fresh, a-live, seafood. The infamous jolly swagman from the land down under reaffirms the rebellious nature we each carry within by swearing to all that seeks to squelch our innocence that "you'll never catch me alive!" On Wednesdays, however, our songs, now, ring out in Chinese. Excitingly, our children are empowered in their bilingual curriculum of enriched literacy and lore to call upon both the eye-less and rumpless tigers of the east, as well as calling upon the memory of the great hunter Houyi and his beloved Chang'e who now longs for him from the moon where she ascending, long ago, into her immortality.
These two lovers are the legendary goddess and hero of the beloved chinese myth of the Jade Rabbit. This story in particular is remembered each year around the western celebrated time of Mabon. As teacher: Peng Xue Ting brought the story back to life for the children of our kindergarten, I looked out at a sea of children clearly entranced by the language and imagery of her story and the rhythm and beat of my drum. I was instantly reminded of the posit Sir Joseph Chilton Pearce made in his influential essay on "Imagination and Play",
Pearce goes onto explain, in a much more technical language, that it is in these magical instances that the child's brain is being completely reconfigured.
Awareness, alone, of what Pearce is articulating here on the affect of storytelling on the brain of our children is catatonic in and of itself. As I drummed along, I too, drifted into that place where we must all frequent often. There I was acutely aware of that faith that is required of all of us involved in the "medicine-work" of childrearing. We cannot always know what sort of neural connections are taking place in the brains of the little ones entrusted to us. Nonetheless, we can trust the reason that stems from our research and experience that something magical is at work.
What am I left with, when the story comes to its end? The satisfaction that, as up and coming bards in this southern nook of our planet we are doing what we can to bring story back to life, fully aware of the neuro-benefits for the children but also a keen sense of a fair bit more yet to be given language to.