The Story Tent project has drawn attention to a number of significant factors that influence childrens' abilities to flourish in intercultural communication.
The significance of Story
The practice of listening to stories creates a unique space which allows pupils to suspend judgement and imagine the views of another. In the world of stories there is hidden meaning embedded to be explored and discovered, stories do not require a recognition or analysis of whether the content was true, rather a truth likeness. Pupils develop an understanding of another perspective by relating and interpreting their experiences through empathetic engagement. As well as providing a vehicle for meaning making, the story helps pupils to embed their learning in a way that is easy to recall.
The significance of Dialogue
The Story Tent “meeting” place facilitates an environment which does not normally exist in the classroom. A space in which different viewpoints can be held in tension and explored together. Through dialogue in this structured space pupils encounter the “other” in a way that is not compromising to personal beliefs. The literature surrounding interreligious dialogue suggests that there could be a “translation” of religion similar to that experienced in language translation. The Story Tent is uniquely placed to develop this type of understanding.
The significance of Drama
Drama is a particularly good vehicle for enabling pupils to exercise intercultural competencies. The process of putting together a drama requires the pupils to be communicatively aware and to be open and respectful of each other’s ideas. Exploring how to present the stories requires curiosity and an empathetic attitude towards the faith representative with a willingness to suspend judgement if the story does not match the experience of the pupils.
The significance of Identity
Personal religious identity also impacts the pupils’ responses to the Story Tent experience. Pupils with a strong sense of personal identity who are able to tolerate ambiguity are more likely to demonstrate higher levels of intercultural competence. The Story Tent also facilitates an environment where pupils were able to be honest and open about their own beliefs and values.