Friday, February 11, 2011

Reflections on 'Children sharing stories across the world' - Glynda Hull

Children sharing stories across the world - Glynda Hull

I first learned of Glynda Hull several years ago when my colleague Ann mentioned her work with the D.U.S.T.Y (Digital Underground Storytelling Youth) programme. The notion of children from under-privileged areas coming together after school to engage in digital storytelling to share their stories appealed to me.

I grew up and still live in Otara, Auckland which is considered to be a very low-socio economic area with high social needs and issues. Like alot of my friends doing okay for themselves and still living in the 'hood' we do what we can, when we can to do our bit to reach out to youth, with the desire of helping them carve out a better future.

So, in 2007 I contacted Michaelangelo from D.U.S.T.Y to seek advice on how to replicate the programme in South Auckland. At the time I was volunteering with CANOPY Trust and working with two ladies teaching them what I knew about technology and getting them to join me in my role teaching teachers, we started an 'Otara Heroes' programme where they created a DVD about people they considered to be Otara Heroes. We soon learned, that the definition 'Hero' meant something different to each of us: a single mum with 7 kids, Reuben Wiki and Manu Vatuvei amazing league players, Norman Kirk and Len Brown.

Glynda Hull talked about the D.U.S.T.Y programme in her korero, she is still involved with some of the youth she worked with some years ago. The stories she shared with us were very moving, the most popular story that has epitomized the work of D.U.S.T.Y for the past decade is Life 'n' Rhyme.

Since then however, she has moved into working across many different countries with a forum called Space2Cre8. She talked about the impact of circulating stories by youth for youth across the world and using a social networking site as the platform to share these among youth.Hull went on to talk about the lessons learned from the work that she is currently doing with Space2Cre8, these included:

- Children can easily extend print based genres.
- Children use different modes.
- Children who struggle with writing may excel with digital media.
- Sharing Digital stories both online and offline can have unexpected and unintended consequences.

She went on to talk about the notion of 'mirror stories', and demonstrated this with two stories: one created by a young girl in India and her struggles with day-to-day living, she then showed a story from a teenage boy in the Bronx who saw this story and decided to document his neighborhood and life - bringing to light the similarities and differences. Hull confirmed through stories "the personal assumes great importance".

What could happen in our teaching teams if we all took time to tell stories? Tell stories of our journey into teaching? Our backgrounds? Our goals and our desires? Then share these stories beyond our walls and into International forums?


  1. Hi Naketa
    The four bullet points would be excellent to consider when talking about early years literacy. However, I can't help but lament the fact that they are rarely part of literacy learning discussion.

    I think this is because we tend to work from what we know from our own experience - it is easier and more comfortable.

    It takes a good dose of curiosity about learning combined with a willingness to think globally and politically rather than just locally to get to these sorts of discussions. But how often are these attributes expressed as the desirable qualities of 'good' teachers.

  2. Kia ora Ann
    Thanks for your comment, I think the fear of the unknown and only working from what you know and staying there definitely is a challenge. I guess our role in this work would be to keep advocating great practices whenever we can.

  3. Kia Ora Naketa,

    Do you have any more information about the Otara Heroes DVD? I'm involved in a project there and would love to know more, I can't seem to find any recent info on Canopy Trust?!?


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