Wondering Out Loud
May 9, 2011
Updated September 6, 2018
1 comment 30 views
After telling a story to kids we encourage them to wonder about the story. The leader will ask wondering questions that the children will try often try to answer. A good wondering question is one to which you do not know the answer. After the story of Noah, you might wonder about how noisy the ark was or how did the animals know that they should enter the ark.
This week a teacher emailed me about what happened with her group. She wrote that one of the wondering questions for the Parable of the Ten Virgins was "I wonder who the foolish virgins were?” A child answered, "I know, it was Jill” (another child in the room). The teacher responded that Jill was a dear sister in Christ and that she had seen Jill preparing her lamp wisely in many ways. She also reassured the first child that she had seen her preparing her lamp through the questions she asked and the thoughts she shared each week. Then the teacher rephrased the wondering question to, "I wonder how it felt to be the foolish virgin?"
I thought she handled this situation beautifully and I told her so. Together we thought about other ways to prevent this type of response from even coming up. We discussed how kids (and adults) are usually expected to answer questions at home or in school. But wondering questions are different. They aren’t asked in order to be answered. They’re asked in order to be pondered. By just wondering about the story, we realize that there are mysteries in the Bible that we can’t answer.
We decided that perhaps the kids in this room needed to take a week or two off from wondering questions. Instead of wondering together as a group about the story, she could give the kids a minute or two of quiet time so they could think about only their own wondering questions. Another possible way to end the story was to ask if the kids heard or saw anything new in the telling of the story or what they noticed in the story. We still want the kids to learn how to respond to wondering questions at some point. But for now we are going to try asking the kids to only respond only with other wondering questions.
Have you run into this problem? What has worked for you?
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What exactly is the problem? Did this question arise from the storyteller's real, internal dialogue with the story? Storytellers must do the inner work; they need to find their own authentic questions. Perhaps if the storyteller doesn't have any real questions, the best response is silence.
Wondering is a dialogue between the storyteller, the children, and God. Thus, the storyteller listens with empathy and responds in ways that keep the conversation open and allow the children to continue working with the ideas.
I wonder what part of the story is about you? I wonder what part of the story is about me?
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