2. Writing from different perspectives
All stories are told from a particular point of view. Our views as writers and readers may be influenced by whether we are young or old, male or female, belong to a particular political party, practise a particular religion, enjoy particular activities, have good or poor health, are employed or unemployed, etc. It is important for pupils to learn that stories can be told in different ways to include or exclude different points of view. It is also true in real life that there is more than one way to view an issue and lots of ways to solve problems.
You can help pupils to learn this by giving them opportunities to tell the same or similar story from different points of view or by modifying the story.
Case Study 2: Turning an ‘outsider’ into a main character in a story
James, one of the pupils in Mrs Fortunate Mabuso’s Standard 6 class, had been badly injured in a car accident and could only walk with crutches. One day, he told Mrs Mabuso that he felt sad because all the stories about boys in their English textbook described how these boys enjoyed doing things that he couldn’t do. Mrs Mabuso felt very upset because she had not thought about this. She asked James what he did when he was at home and found out that he was a skilled musician who played both drums and a tin flute. She asked him if he would play his instruments for the class. He was a bit shy about this but finally said he would.
In their next English lesson, Mrs Mabuso told the class that she wanted to give them some ideas for writing a story. She asked James to play some music for them. The pupils were surprised and delighted by James’s skills. Mrs Mabuso asked them to imagine a story in which James, the musician, was the main character. They shared ideas as a whole class and then worked in pairs to begin writing and/or drawing a story.
During the lesson, some pupils went to James and his partner to ask advice on details for their stories. In the next lesson, the pairs continued their discussion and wrote and drew their individual stories.
While Mrs Mabuso was reading the stories, she realised that there were other pupils in the class who probably felt ‘left out’ of the stories in the textbooks and the class storybooks. She started to plan ways of giving recognition to these pupils, too.
Activity 2: Writing a story from different points of view
- Use the same story as in Activity 1 or another one you have selected.
- Read it with pupils and discuss how it could be told in a different way. For example, new characters could be added or some existing characters could behave in different ways. In a family story, a father could stay at home and cook while the mother works at a garage. The family could include a child or adult with a physical or mental disability.
- Ask pupils to work in small groups to write and/or draw different versions of the story you have just read with them. Move round the class, noticing what pupils are enjoying. If any group is having problems, give suggestions.
- When the groups have finished, ask one pupil from each group to read the new story to the class and to show the drawings. Collect the stories for assessment.
- You could ‘publish’ the stories in a book for the class library or display them in the classroom.
What do the stories tell you about pupils’ ideas and about their stages of writing development?