Active Storytelling Workshops
Exploring and shaping values-led futures with students
““Thank you for coming here! It was such a special afternoon to me because I could realise that I have enough power in my hands to actually do something to help us get closer to the world I saw when I closed my eyes in that room. I’m really looking forward to joining a volunteer group once I’m back in Brazil. I also expect to be more proactive when it comes to neighbourhood issues. Thank you for providing us with such a mind-opening experience.”
- Sandy, 20, Bayswater International College
From systemic racism to climate change, globally we are experiencing many interconnected challenges. Amongst these is an education system that is not fit for purpose. Its one-size-fits-all approach means that students gain in unequal measures and inter/intra-personal skills such as critical thinking, reflection, imagination, and collaboration are often neglected. So concerned with finding the one, right answer, our education system neglects the expansive power of the imagination, starving us of a greater sense of possibility.
Students and those still blessed with youth, have unfortunately had theirs plagued with uncertainty about their futures, while stuck within systems that at best do not know how to respond, and at worse are belligerently carrying on as if nothing were amiss. Students begin to feel disengaged with society, essentially powerless.
Without a sense of agency or the possibility of an alternative, we lose hope. Everything around us seems to be breaking down, we cannot see an alternative, and it probably wouldn't make a difference anyway, nothing is going to change. These perspectives feed and are fed by a growing culture of fear or nihilism, a rise in mental health issues such as anxiety, and sometimes a paralysing inability to take action within our lives.
We need spaces to actively address this.
We recognise that thinking about futures can be anxiety-inducing. We also acknowledge that the reasons behind much of this anxiety are grounded in reality rather than irrational projections. Yet fundamentally, we understand that futures-thinking can be liberating, empowering, and resilience building, if explored in a conscious, open, and collaborative manner.
We worked with a number of KS2/3 students, from a diverse mix of schools across Greater London, helping students to understand their own power, through exploring values-led futures. This was a 3 part workshop:
In the first section, we provided open, expansive spaces for students to critically discuss the issues that mattered most to them; from knife crime and homelessness, to racism and climate change. Through which we explored their interconnected nature through the psychology of values: why we prioritise certain values, how they can manifest within our lives, and society; identifying the values they felt were fuelling their chosen issues.
In the second section, nurturing their imaginative capacities, the students exploring futures, new possibilities with new values at the heart, values that were most meaningful to them.
Finally, students worked in teams, coming up with and designing a project plan, whether it was a monthly school movie night on climate change, to initiatives to clean up litter after school. Each student left with a meaningful, actionable template to contribute to the change they want to see in the world, and most importantly, a renewed sense of possibility and agency.
You can read some of the insights from these workshops here: Why We Need to Decolonise & Democratise Our Imaginations