The Last Great Story

Posted by Greg MacDonald on

This story, which brings to consciousness the many interrelationships that exist in the abiotic and biotic worlds, was first told in Kodaikanal on March 27th, 1944.  The Chart of Interdependencies can be used for the presentation of this story, or you may elect to draw the chart as you tell the story. 

Drawing a chart rather than just holding up a chart offers a new and engaging experience for children.  It’s not necessary for elementary Guides to be Art Majors in order to do this.  I think it’s better to use simple sketches, rather than artwork that would make da Vinci envious, as you tell a story using this method. When we take the simpler drawing route (even if we are Art Majors), we introduce a tradition that the children may feel confident enough about to try for themselves, perhaps as they retell the story (or another presentation) to classmates.

The presentation for the Chart of Interdependencies should be presented when the children have done enough supporting work in geography, history and biology, so that they have the necessary background to understand the connections that the story makes, and so that they might independently (after the story has been told) generate more connections of their own.

When I took my own elementary training, I wrote that we should keep this story until late in the elementary – To tell it to the older children.  The background information that I mentioned above was the reason for this, as I understood it at the time.  It was only when I actually told the story to older elementary children, and I saw the impact that it had on them, that I realized that I’d probably missed my Trainers' emphasis upon the importance of the story as a summation experience. 

I also discovered that when I told the story to adults who were training to become Montessori elementary Guides, the story often struck them with similar force.  The reason for this seemed to be twofold:  The same effect that the story has upon children was one aspect of the students’ experience.  As second effect was their realization of the power that this story promised.  (“If the story hits me like this, I can just imagine how it will impact an older second plane child who has lived these ideas for six years!”)

Think of this presentation as the final Great Story … One that ties together all that the children have learned during their six years in the elementary.  This story contrasts with the Great Stories told to them when they were younger, and which served to introduce vast fields of human knowledge.  This "final" story is a summation of the children’s lives and learning in the elementary, an invitation to reflect upon all that they now know, and it provides them with an opportunity to consider all of the relationships of that exist in the world and universe around them. 

Another aspect of Chart S is that it can be thought of as a pictorial representation of all of the previous Great Stories that the children heard when they first entered their elementary class.  It also provides an image of the Albums from which the presentations that the the children have enjoyed originated.  This is not something pointed out to the children, but something that we as Guides should be aware of. 

When we recognize that the Chart of Interdependencies story simultaneously provides a distillation of the older elementary children’s six years or so of work, and of the interconnections between the disciplines, our storytelling technique and style take on nuances that may not have been there before.  Elements that are associated with the telling of the Great Stories themselves are more likely to emerge naturally as we deliver the presentation in this way.

The result will be a more compelling and engaging story experience for the children.


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