Friday, May 19, 2006

My Story Island Home

I've had a wonderful week of telling stories to young children this week. I love seeing the way children respond to stories. At one kindergarten, I had spent about 10 minutes telling a story with full on sound effects and action and kids joining in and laughing and coming up with suggestions and, at the end, a young girl right down the front put her hand up and said, "Could you tell that story again please?" Isn't that perfect.

Today there was a moment that made all of the driving worth it. A young boy had to be helped to walk into the room by the Director because of a physical disability that required him to wear some supportive legware. She also helped him sit up and helped him dance in the 'Old Man and the Drum' story. He was having a great time and at the end of the show all of the kids came over to shake my hand. He did as well and said, "That was a great story about the sheep."

It was the version of 'Baa, Baa, Black Sheep' that I have been improvising and polishing over the last month or so. He said, "I'm going to tell it to my Dad." I thought 'Yes!' this is what this storytelling business is about.

It made the drive back to Brisbane along the freeway worthwhile.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Storytelling and the Law

Yesterday I arrived home from my morning performances to find some pieces of paper sticking out from under my door. I had a fair idea what they might be and I was right. Annie had dropped in with some photocopies of articles about Storytelling and the Law. I had run into her the day before in Vulture Street in West End on my way to Phil the Barber for a haircut so I stopped for a coffee and a chat and she told me about the articles.

She certainly had me interested. The drift was that if legal people had a better idea of the narrative and the personal stories of their clients and defendants they they would be better able to make informed, compassionate and appropriate judgements. Sounded good to me and I was looking forward to a read.

Well I've got to admit Annie that, when I got to read them - 'Storytelling, Postmodernism and the Law', Hon Justice Peter Heerey, The Australian Law Journal, 74:681-691 and 'Literature and the judicial role - Why judges should read novels and mandatory sentencing should be rejected', Rodney Allen - I was a little disappointed. The articles beat around the legal and academic bushes quite a bit and didn't really seem to come to the point of exploring an increased role for, or relevance of, personal narratives to any meaningful extent. Even though they were worth reading I was left with the feeling that both authors were reluctant to go out on any legal limbs in case they raised the ire of colleagues or similar.

Now here is my request does anyone know of any more specific articles about the role of storytelling and narrative structure in law?