Thursday, January 17, 2013

Godly Play Trainers' Training in Holland: Part 1

Hi everyone, if you've been wondering where I have been, I've been super busy getting grades together for the end of the first semester, and finishing up a couple of projects for Godly Play Deutschland. I love to be in this space, but the things happening in real time take priority.: )

One of my favorite blogs is called "What did we do all Day?", and that is an appropriate question about our recent training in Holland to become Godly Play Trainers. Exactly what did we do all day for six days straight? Can you really discuss and do Godly Play from morning until evening for that long?

Well, for the inquiring mind that want to know, you can talk about and practice Godly Play for six days and still not have all of your questions answered.: )  

There were 12 of us training to be Trainers and we were divided into 2 groups of six. Our trainers were Dr. Rebecca Nye, the author of Children's Spirituality: What it is and Why it Matters, and the Rev. Peter Privett, who together brought Godly Play to Europe in the late 1990s. They were both wonderful down-to-earth people who came in with the attitude that we were all learning together rather than them being the experts who knew everything. How refreshing that was! 

Our training was divided into three parts:

1) Training another Storyteller 

2) Telling a story and being trained by another Storyteller

3) Background work in Children's Spirituality

Since I promised to write shorter posts, I'll just tell you about the first part today: 

Training a fellow Storyteller

This was baptism by fire for me, because I was the very first one in my group train someone else! Fortunately, Rebecca and Peter had brought along Peter's wife, Rosemary (brave woman!), to be a guinea pig storyteller, and Rebecca had begun the training by training Rosemary.  I trained Andrea from England who did a marvelous job of telling "The Flood and the Ark". Fortunately, I had told my kids this story in Nov., so I was familiar with it. 
When you train someone else, you sit outside of the circle behind the group in a chair, so that you have a clear view of what is going on and take notes as quietly as possible about what you see. Then, you observe the story, the Storyteller, the people listening, and the Wondering at the end. 

I found it incredibly difficult to be such a multitasked here! My natural Modus Operandi is to get drawn into the story itself and forget about everything else. I had to fight with myself to stay on track and keep observing. Taking notes helped a lot. 

When the story was finished, I had to gently find a way to enter the group. The circle had been formed in the beginning and the participants had experienced a deep Wondering time together. To come in too abruptly would have made everything suddenly strange and possibly make the Storyteller nervous about what I was going to say. So following Rebecca's example as a Trainer, I gently asked if I could join the group. 

Andrea had done a brilliant job of telling the story, so there wasn't much to address in the first place. I began by asking her how the experience had been for her. After she shared, I asked the group what they liked about the story, and they shared encouragements for quite a while. Finally, I asked Andrea, "Were there any rough spots for you?" Then, she knew exactly what had been problematic without me even having to mention it. 

I discovered through all of this that being a Trainer is really a pastoral role. You are not necessarily there to give a lot of direct critique, but to help the person draw it out for themselves. You want to encourage the storyteller that he or she can do this storytelling thing. Rebecca and Peter stressed that training someone is different every time and that you just have to look for teachable moments and feel the person out for how open they are for critique. Apparently, in most Core Trainings, the time for the direct instruction is during the practice time, BEFORE the person tells the story in front of the group. The training afterwards is a debrief about how it went. 

Also, one important thing that I mentioned in my first post on the training, is that a Trainer evaluates not just the story, but the session as a whole. Again, this stretched my multi-tasking skills, but I think it will get easier with practice.

Right after my experience as a Trainer, Rebecca then debriefed me by doing exactly the same sort of thing that I had just done with Andrea. And then I thought to myself, I think I can really do this!


  1. Schon Ignatius von Loyola schreibt in seinem Exerzitienbuch: "Jeder Christ muss bereitwilliger sein, die Aussage des Nächsten zu retten, als sie zu verurteilen." So agiert auch der Trainer.

    1. Das stimmt!

      For those who don't speak German, Markus quotes St. Ignatius of Loyola: "Every Christian must be more willing to save his neighbor's advice than to judge it." That should be the work of a Godly Play trainer.