When the First and the Last Stories Come Full Circle

Dear Reader:

Isn’t this a wondrous idea? Jo sent me a copy of it (title sketch) which I was finally able to open on my Messenger. (it is acting up.)

I began thinking that as many stories as I told in class…I usually started the class with them but not so much ended it the same way. Now as I contemplate upon this…I should have ended the classes (especially on Fridays) with a “cliff-hanger” about an historical person, place, or thing we were studying at the time and then have the students bring in their own imaginative ending to the story on Monday.

*Once a teacher always a teacher…the ideas just keep coming.

As far as memory retention goes…we always remember the beginning of anything…lesson, story, movie… the best…it is most easily recalled, followed by the ending…the part we least retain is in the middle.

For a teacher this was and is not good news….especially after one summer when  many teachers  took brain study classes on student retention…realizing by the end of the course that the crux of our lessons for each class were found in the middle between the introduction and conclusion. The part least retained or remembered.

So how to get around this? Break the lesson up into small palpable bites with several beginnings and endings throughout the lesson.

For small children…the idea of early primary grades having their teacher save the last half hour of the school day for a story is phenomenally important in  small children’s retention. The last story....don’t we all remember begging our parents to read us a last bedtime story before we fell asleep. It was our favorite ritual of the day.

It was and continues to be the perfect way to end any day of the week….so don’t you think it is the best way to end a child’s school day too?  A class full of excited children anticipating the last half hour of school with relish and happiness! Returning home with their heads full of imagination and dreams?

For me…storytelling was the catalyst that broke up the retention problems in social studies… it could bring boring random historical facts into colorful energized personal stories from the past…people who lived in that period of history re-telling it through first-hand accounts.

With the Lion King returning this summer to popular crowds…the movie theme throughout is still about the circle of life…and that relies (most importantly) on the circle of stories we hear and re-tell…from the beginning of our existence to the last story we tell or hear at the end.

One of the funniest stories to come out of Ireland, much to many a tour guide’s delight in the re-telling (guaranteed to elicit spontaneous laughter, chuckles and tickle bones) originates from an old castle atop the Cliffs of Moher.

*(I asked Anne if she remembered seeing the castle, actually the tower is all that is left, O’Brien’s Tower, and she said we were so caught up in the cut-outs of Eva Cate and Rutledge “bungee jumping” from the cliffs we missed the castle …or tower.)

So here goes…

Conor, a tour guide, told the group a funny story about the guy who built the original castle. His name was Cornelius O’Brien and apparently he had an eye for the ladies, despite being married.


The story went that he built this fabulous new castle and took a young lady, not his wife, out there to show off his latest building. Word got back to his wife that he was misbehaving despite her warnings after the last time, so she took her soldiers and followed “poor” old Cornelius out to the castle on top of the cliff. 

She found him in a compromising position and took her revenge as she promised she would. Her soldiers did her bidding and threw him into the crashing surf below…and the castle forever more was known as ‘the last erection of Cornelius O’Brien’! 🙂 🙂 🙂

*(My favorite home-spun author, Miss Effie, would have ended a story like this with “Whoo Whee!!!” (And start fanning while grinning!)

So until tomorrow….I hope everyone has a fun, relaxing weekend…with lots of laughter and chuckles…personal anecdotes are always a favorite.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

Yesterday marked an ending for Jakie….his last day at his pre-school at the Citadel Square in downtown Charleston. Mandy said he seemed a little confused why his teachers were so emotional…the church session voted to close the day care at this church sadly.

This school year Jakie will be with Eva Cate at James Edwards elementary school in the four-year-old CD program…he just misses the cut off age for the kindergarten school year. We are happy about that….another year to grow and develop.

Grandmother of the Year, in my book, Lori, took the girls for a back-to school outing….to go eat at Vickerys...a favorite spot on the water.



About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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