Saturday, April 19, 2008

Story. Interruption. Storinterrupry. Interrustoryption.

Is some of this ADD we're seeing our fault?

The more I work as a performing artist in schools, the more I think we (the adults aka the system) are somewhat to blame for this ADD (attention deficit disorder) epidemic.

There are exceptions, but during the last year as a storyteller, I've noticed the following are rather standard at every school in which I have performed or done a residency:

...Classrooms placed next to the choir and orchestra rooms- with that constant noise coming in and out of classes that are not music classes.

...Adults who use whistles a bit too much.

...Adults who, while I am performing, walk right in front of me as I am speaking.

...Bells, tones, chimes going off continuously during sessions.

...Unplanned, verbal, over-the-speakers announcements given in the middle of sessions.

...Militaristic guarding of who can and can not walk around, near, through or about locations, doors, and sidewalks. Cafeterias are guard-dog-like guarded from who may and may not step into those spaces.

...Cavernous Cafeterias/Gyms, poorly designed for sound, being used for school presentations, with echoes and reverb so bad I had to move parts of the shows.

...Children, lots and lots of children, being called out of presentations to go to yet another piece while the first piece they are watching is ongoing.

...Story interruption story interruption storyinterrupstory stinterrutory storyinterstoy storyinterstory story interrupstory interruption. story. bell.

...Adolescent students slamming energy drinks as if they are drinking bottles of water.

...Computer tech people talking on phones while performances are going on.

...Teachers who talk, in small groups in the middle of the audience, the entire time the children are watching the performance. Woe to the presenter who dares correct these teachers, too.

...Adults who yell at entire assemblies of children for not being quiet right after the presenter asks them to participate.

...Corn-syrup laden treats given to children as "after school" snacks.
I enjoy doing the school shows. In being honest, however, the distractions are so bad in some cases that I have trouble concentrating with my own version of ADD and Fog. How do we expect children to survive this? If our corporate offices ran like this, there would be meetings about efficiency and solving the "noise crisis."

I understand that teachers are, usually, doing the best they can in these situations. And I know that ADD, in some cases, is biological. It will be interesting to see how many people leave me flaming comments before they even read this last paragraph. I'll get to rest my case then.

The official blog for K. Sean Buvala, storyteller and storytelling coach.


  1. Lemme add crackers to your whine.

    I was performing in the music room at a school last week. I stood on the little riser in front. This created a small space behind me (three feet?). While I recognize that preschool teacher must be aware of her students' needs, I do not understand why she had to take them out to the bathroom by walking behind me as I performed. Grrr! When one little kid goes to the bathroom, six more suddenly get the urge. There was a door at the back of the room they could have used without interrupting.

    There. I'm done. I feel much better.

    You may well be right about contributions to the explosion of ADD (speaking as one "attention diffuse" person to another).

  2. No flaming here! Just a lot of "amens." But then, I'm a product of a very tense public school system who's now sending her daughter to a Waldorf school for as long as it's feasible to do so. I don't advocate this as the solution for everyone, obviously, but I do wish that more teachers had the support to be attuned to children's natural rhythms and teach that way, rather than measuring out their days with brittle blocks of time.

  3. Amen. Amen and Amen!!!!!
    Recently I told stories where they were no startling announcements on the intercom and the quiet was wonderful.