This blog is about learning through stories

This blog is a collection of short stories which can be used to teach children of all ages aspects of social and moral education. You will also find therapeutic stories to help with life’s difficulties, for both adults and children. 

Click on ‘select category’ on right of screen to find what you need, scroll down to find a suitable story, or look at the contents page (see above) for links to every story. Age range is indicated for each story. The search box (top right) may also help.

A story about avoiding horror films for Older Primary children, Teens, Special Needs and Parents

 

Voices On Her Shoulders

“The stars are dark on this moonless night. Although plenty of glass litters the room, no moonlight exists to glint off it. This place is as lifeless as my soul.”

Mary read the quote for the third time, or perhaps the fourth.

She has never experienced depression before and this quote seems to be a taste of what it might be like. Her homework, to develop the idea in the quote, created a streak of rebellion. She looked back at her childhood. Her father would always march out of the room and do something else if a play or drama was about to be broadcast.

‘I don’t want to hear about other people’s terrible lives,’ he said. ‘I want to be entertained. I would watch Tommy Cooper doing his magic tricks, but not this rubbish!’

In disgust he would depart. Mary tended to agree with her dad. What was the point of watching or reading about something that might give her nightmares? She preferred a light touch too. Certainly she wanted to be aware of the dark side of life, but not to be entertained by it. There are shades of black that she had no intention of ever exploring. Depravity and depression, disgust and decay, disillusionment and darkness, they all seemed to begin with a D and she wanted none of them.

As she sat wondering what could be done with the quote, she became aware of two voices, one coming from each shoulder. There was a mean, harsh, nasty voice coming from the left side, and a soothing, serene voice on her right.

‘Call me Jock,’ said the mean one.

‘I suggest you don’t listen to him and you can call me Serena,’ said the other.

‘Is that what you want? A really boring life? No thrills or spills or ills?’ Jock interrupted, ‘I could show you a few things. How about what a corpse looks like after a month underground? I got great pictures. They are all in your mind already, see? You just have to flick through the catalogue.’

Mary shuddered. Why would she want to see such things? At that moment the picture of the cool clear mountain cascade flashed through her inner screen.

‘Thanks, Serena,’ she said out loud.

‘Och away wi ye Miss Perfect Paws !’ growled Jock.

Mary glanced to her right and saw to her surprise a contented looking feline washing her feet with great delicacy.

‘Serena?’ she queried. The cat merely turned her attention to cleaning her ears.

‘How about a nice bit of blood and gore?’ asked Jock, ‘ A real life RTA?’ *

‘Go away!’ said Mary, ‘I don’t like your hideous pictures. How could they possibly improve my life? I like to sleep peacefully at night.’

The glimmerings of a blue flashing light, a body on the road and the sound of sirens started to impinge on Mary’s inner screen.

‘Get lost!’ she shouted out loud.

Stern faces looked at Mary over their copies of ‘The Times’.

She felt herself blush, ‘Oops, sorry. I got carried away with my book,’ she lied. She had completely lost track of her sense of place. She was in the public library reference section, where so many folk go to get a bit of peace or to do some writing or their homework.

She stood up and placed herself between two long rows of bookshelves. If the dialogue between the entities on her left and her right shoulders was to continue she had to give them some privacy. A sense of peace settled over her as she thumbed through a copy of ‘Gardeners World’. A snowfall of white plumb blossom seemed to engulf her.

‘Thanks, Serena!’ she whispered, giggling at her success. She has no desire to view a road traffic accident just for fun. What kind of fun would that be anyway?

She thought she heard the sound of splashing water. Puzzled, she looked about. It wasn’t raining outside and anyway there was a floor above her; she couldn’t be hearing rain. It became louder and the sensation of a shower curtain touched her face, she suddenly felt claustrophobic, then she saw the glint of metal, a blade piercing the curtain,  a knife slicing downwards towards her.

‘Serena!’ she shouted out loud. Sounds of streaming shower water turned into a heavy, contented purr. The wet curtain morphed into the feel of warm fur, and the blade became a cats claw, gently withdrawing itself.

‘I’ve got to get out of here!’ she said to no one in particular. The librarian asked her if she was all right as she rushed past the desk.

‘Yes thanks, fine, just late for a lecture, sorry!’

Outside Mary recalled a scene from the one and only horror film she had ever watched; it had preyed on her mind for years.

‘Now I know who Alfred Hitchcock * was listening to,’ she said.

The cat purred. ‘You all have a choice, you know. You can choose beauty and truth or you can go for delusion, destruction and death.’

‘Those Ds again,’ thought Mary. ‘I agree Serena, I’m with you all the way, I’m not going to look at those D words, ever.’

As she walked along she pondered, ‘Hmm, delicious, delightful, delectable, desire, ‘oh well, some of the D s might be okay, but I will need to police them carefully or Jock will be back with his nasty pictures.’

‘You called?’ said a coarse Glaswegian voice.

‘No! Bu*ger off !’ shouted Mary.

She saw the very slightest twitch of a cat’s tail on her right shoulder and then there was peace.

* An RTA is a Road Traffic Accident

* Alfred Hitchcock made horror films, in one of which, Psycho the shower scene was shown.

Questions to be added

Guidance:

My grandfather used to tell us stories about all sorts of things. Sometimes the stories were funny, sometimes a bit scary, but they never gave us bad dreams. They never made us afraid nor gave us fears. Grandad’s stories came from words from his mouth, but the pictures were the ones we found for ourselves. They formed from our imaginations and were as colourful and bright or as dim and hazy as our minds wanted them to be.

When it came to watching the television our parents were very careful about what we saw. They did not allow us to see scary, nasty or shocking programmes and I’m sure they were right.

When the mind sees pictures on the screen, it can be badly affected by those pictures. Unnecessary fears and worries can be created in children’s minds, and even in the minds of many adults.

I have listened to many conversations between young people and even adults, when people are discussing their fears. People can develop fears of all sorts of things such as spiders, snakes, birds, heights, open spaces, enclosed spaces and so on. The strange thing is that they seem to love to discuss their fears almost as if they are proud of them, or even attached to them. They do not want to let go of them it seems. Irrational fears can control the lives of some people, preventing them from doing things or going to certain places. They hand over their power to someone else who is then expected to take control of the situation – to move the spider, climb the ladder, or get rid of the bird.

When we watch frightening things on television we can begin to think that certain things are dangerous and will harm us. We may have nightmares about them. They start to control our lives. The pictures and situations seem so convincing that they create real fear in us and affect our everyday lives.

People can also pick up fear from their parents for no good reason. A mother who is afraid of mice may pass this fear onto her children.

My advice would be do not watch horror films, don’t deliberately make yourself scared or uncomfortable. Be at peace, be rational, be calm and realistic. Certainly things can harm us, but the kinds of things that people fear will not normally be harmful at all. To be in control of your emotions is far better than being attached to your fears. That buzz of ‘dread energy’ that you get from fears could be achieved in different ways which are much more useful and constructive. When we challenge ourselves to achieve something and set about achieving it, the buzz that we get from our success will be far more satisfying and long-lasting than any fear induced adrenaline rush.

Losing Her Marbles. 11 year old Rosie talks about her Grandma who has just died

Losing Her Marbles

‘Oh, Granddad, you’re up here too. It’s nice and breezy isn’t it and the sea’s looking all sparkly.’

‘I suppose the parade ground is good for roller-skating. They don’t do much parading round here these days,’ said her Granddad.

Rosie glanced down at her roller blades; she didn’t feel she should correct Granddad. He didn’t notice the difference between blades and skates and she didn’t want to argue with him. She knew he was sad these days. Rosie’s friends were across the other side of the parade ground. This would be their last summer together before secondary school, but she thought she would take this chance to talk to her Granddad.

She looked across to the lighthouse which everyone called Smeaton’s tower, at the far end of the huge parade ground.

‘Did you used to come up here when you were a boy Granddad?’

‘I did, I used to bring my old go-kart up here, we had races, me and my pals. That was before the war of course, before I met your grandma.’

‘Yes, you met her after the war didn’t you granddad? I expect you miss her now she’s gone.’

‘I do miss her Rosie, but not Grandma as you knew her. She had already gone before you were born, you know. She got that ‘old timers disease’ before she ever was an old timer. The grandma you knew was just an empty shell really.’

‘Is that why she never knew my name, Granddad? Because she had no brain – she was an empty shell?’

‘Well she didn’t exactly have no brain, but it had stopped working long ago.’

Rosie shuddered. ‘I don’t want to be an empty shell when I’m old, Granddad.’

‘No, nor do I Rosie,’ said the old man, ‘but there’s no point in fretting about it. Most people keep their marbles and I’m certainly intending to keep mine.’

‘Do you want to have a game then, Granddad, I didn’t know you still had marbles.’

‘Oh, I keep mine well hidden, I don’t play with them any more, I just look after them as best I can.’

Rosie looked puzzled. ‘Oh, I keep mine in this little bag here Granddad, see? We can have a game if you like.’

‘Tell you what, if I lie down like this on my coat and you do all the fetching, I will give you a game.’

A warm glow filled Rosie’s chest. This was the first time her Granddad had ever played marbles or anything else with her. Perhaps there were some good things that can happen along with the sadness when somebody dies.

Questions

What do you think Rosie’s granddad might have been doing when she met him up on the parade ground?

Why was Rosie on the parade ground?

What did Rosie’s Granddad used to do on the parade ground when he was a boy? 

How could Rosie tell that her grandma wasn’t quite right when she was alive?’

Rosie’s Granddad said Grandma was like an empty shell, and that she had a certain illness that he called ‘Old Timer’s Disease’. What is an old timer? Do you know the right name for that illness?

How long might she have been ill for before she died? 

What did Granddad mean about looking after his marbles?

Why do you think Granddad had never played with Rosie?

How do you think Granddad felt after his wife had died?

What was the good thing that happened for Rosie after her chat with her Granddad?

Does the story remind you of anything in your life?

 

 

The Animal on the Mountain – story for little kids about not keeping wild animals as pets

                                                            The Animal On The Mountain.

Mary and Donald, Tommy’s Granny and Granddad, went to France to see the mountains, which were like huge, tall pointed hills with snow on top. They looked very rocky and difficult to climb. Mary decided she would not try to climb the mountains. She would just walk around the bottom of them where there were lovely flowers called alpine plants.

As Mary and Donald got ready to go on a mountain walk they put bottles of water and some biscuits in their rucksacks. They carried raincoats and wore sun hats. You can never tell what the weather is going to do in the mountains. It can be quite cold or very hot. Sometimes there are thunderstorms and very heavy rain. Mary wanted to be ready for anything. They decided they would try to go and see a glacier, which is a frozen river of ice. When you go on a mountain walk you zig-zag up the sides of the mountain so that it doesn’t feel too steep to climb. Mary had her two walking poles with her to help her go uphill more easily.

She was getting a bit puffed so she sat on a rock to have a rest. Then she thought she saw something moving along between the rocks. It was difficult to see. It was brown and furry. It disappeared. Mary whispered to Donald ‘Look over there! A creature is coming this way! Shush, don’t frighten it!’

A Marmot

 

It was bigger than a rabbit and a smaller than a badger. It had little short legs and it moved a bit like a rabbit or perhaps a cat. It did not hop. Every few steps it flipped its wiggly tail, which was longer than a rabbit’s ‘powder puff’ tail. It had little short rounded ears.

Donald said, ‘It can’t be a rabbit because it hasn’t got long ears.’

Then Mary got excited. ‘I know, it’s a marmot! My nephew Antony had a toy one to cuddle when he was young. It was his favourite toy! Oh Donald, I’d love to take a marmot home for Tommy! It looks so sweet! Tommy could feed it and keep it in a cage in the garden.’

‘I don’t think it would be happy in a box,’ said Donald.

‘We could make a big run for him then. Oh I do want a marmot for Tommy! I’m going to try to catch one!’ said Mary and she went scrambling over the rocks towards the marmot. It sat and watched her struggling with her sticks, then just before she got too close, it popped down a hole in the ground. Mary tried again and again to catch a marmot, but it was too difficult. Mary was determined to bring a marmot home for Tommy.

‘I will just have to buy one in a French pet shop,’ she told Donald.

The pet shop man smiled a sad smile, ‘Very sorry madam,’ he said, ‘we do not sell marmots here. Nobody sells them. They belong in the mountains. That’s their proper home. They don’t like to be kept in a cage. They like to be out on the mountain eating the alpine plants.’ Mary was sad. She told the pet shop man about Tommy and how much he might love one, just like Antony did.

‘Why don’t you buy Tommy a nice furry toy marmot? He can play with it and stroke it and talk to it and he will not need to feed it. And his marmot will not be unhappy like a real one would be.’ said the pet shop man.

Mary smiled a big smile ‘Ah yes, now that is a good idea! I’ll get a toy marmot!’ So she did and it’s on its way to Tommy right now on the boat to Ireland.

Questions:

What sort of animal did Mary see living in the mountains?

How big was it? Did it look cuddly or fierce?

What did Mary want to do to the marmot?

Why could she not catch one?

Would it be a good idea to keep a marmot as a pet? Why not?

What sort of food do marmots eat?

What did the pet shop man tell Mary to do for Tommy, instead of bringing a real live marmot home?

 

A story to introduce the idea of character development: Should Marcy be the Boss? – for children 9-10 years

Should Marcy be the Boss?

Marcy lived in San Diego, USA. Her parents had a beautiful large house with a swimming pool. and Marcy was their only child. Marcy’s mother Bettina loved to play golf, to visit the beautician and her hairdresser, to work with her personal trainer and to do a little charity work one day a week. She was a busy lady. She did not have time to clean or cook so she employed Olivia, a woman from Mexico, just over the border from San Diego.

Bettina allowed her home help Olivia to go home across the border at weekends. She spent her days cleaning and cooking and looking after Marcy when she wasn’t at school. Marcy loved Olivia. She always had time to chat about any problem Marcy had and Marcy was the kind of girl who was always having problems. She was ten years old and she and her friends were always falling out.

If Marcy told her mother about it, Bettina would say
‘Gee honey, I don’t know why you bother with Mary Lou (or Jamie Lee, or whoever Marcy had fallen out with). But that answer did not satisfy her; she wanted to know why things had gone wrong between her and her friends, and Olivia would always ask Marcy the right questions about what had happened to help her to understand these ups and downs.

Olivia had three children of her own whom she saw only at weekends. Marcy loved to hear about them as she had no brothers or sisters to play with or to think about. Olivia’s family were almost like a family to Marcy except that she had never met them.

One day during the summer holidays Olivia asked Marcy’s Mum, Bettina, if she could bring her youngest daughter Karen to stay for a week. Olivia’s mother, Karen’s grandmother, had to go to hospital and could not look after the children for a few days.

Bettina agreed, ‘Sure that will be okay. Marcy has fallen out with all her friends at the moment, so Karen will keep her company.’

‘She will be no trouble,’ said Olivia, ‘she can help me with the work. Marcy might not want to play with her.’

‘Oh yes I do, I do want to play with her!’ shouted Marcy who had been listening from behind the half closed kitchen door.
Olivia looked at Marcy then at Bettina, her half smile said a lot. Bettina easily read her expression.
‘Marcy, if Karen comes she will be staying here and you won’t be able to treat her like you treat your so-called friends. You will have to be kind and considerate and not flounce off in a huff and say ‘I’ll never speak to you again.’
Marcy blushed. ‘I don’t say that! Well, if I do I don’t mean it!’

‘That maybe so, but do your friends know that? No one has called round it at all this holiday. Have you put them all off?’

Marcy stomped out of the kitchen. Bettina and Olivia looked at each other. Both women thought the other should be making a better job of showing Marcy how to behave, but of course neither said so.
‘Karen can come tomorrow, that will be fine,’ said Bettina in an uncertain voice, which told of her doubts.

When Karen arrived Marcy was all over her. She talked non-stop and took her all around the house and showed her where she could and could not go. She decided that she would be the boss and Karen would be a servant, a servant who would play with her when Marcy wanted to play, otherwise she could help her mother.

The adults did not hear about this arrangement. They had thought that the girls could make friends with each other and have some fun, perhaps swim in the pool, play handball and watch a few videos together.

On the second day Karen refused to go to play with Marcy.
‘I want to help you today, Mum,’ she said.

‘Why what’s the problem?’ asked Olivia.
As usual Marcy was listening from behind the door.
‘Marcy is treating me like a servant. She keeps telling me to fetch things for her. She tells me what to do all the time. Even in the pool, she tells me where I can swim and how many lengths I have to do. She’s so bossy!’

Marcy felt herself blushing. That was exactly what her friends kept telling her. She did not know how to behave in a nice way towards people. She had to think quickly.
She skipped in the door. ‘ Hi Karen.’ She said. ‘I was playing at being the boss yesterday. I forgot to tell you. Sorry. Today you can be the boss. It’s your turn. Just tell me what to do and I will do it.’

Karen looked surprised. ‘Oh is that what you were doing? Well it wasn’t much fun for me. I think I’m not going to choose to be the boss. We’ll have a different game. I will be a teacher and I will show you how to take turns, how to share and to be polite and considerate, and you can pretend that you don’t know how to be those things, and I will teach you. We could make a play about it and show Mum and Bettina tonight.’

Questions
This is a story about character. What does the word mean to you?
Who in the story shows that they have a good character?
What is it that they do that shows you this?
How could Bettina be a better mother?
Why does Marcy keep losing her friends?
Why does Karen not want to play with Marcy?
What advice would you give to Marcy to help her to keep her friends?
How could you help someone who needs to learn better behaviour?

A Family Separated by Distance and Mistaken Ideas (for adults and children of 12 plus)

.A Family Separated by Distance and Mistaken Ideas.

About 40 years ago a member of the McTavish family left the shores of the United Kingdom and moved to Canada. Other members of the family felt somewhat rejected by this move. Fiona McTavish now took on the mantle of a Canadian person. She had moved in order to start a new life, which had not seemed possible in her home country as her husband was an immigrant and was not well accepted in the United Kingdom. They both knew that Canada would be more open and welcoming to them and that financially they could make that change. Life would be easier for them, her husband would find a job and she knew that she could find training as a nurse.

Fiona took her husband’s name which was Stanislaus, later to be changed to Stanley which was more acceptable and more easily spelt. The couple had children and for 20 years Fiona turned her attention to bringing up the children and was able to work part-time in the local hospital when all the children were at secondary school. Her family built up many friendships and relationships within the Canadian community, but they lacked family members, cousins, aunts and uncles with whom to share holiday times and celebrations.

Meanwhile the McTavish family feeling somewhat rejected by Fiona built up a picture of her as a person who had never liked them, had never appreciated their ways and had never valued them. Time passed by and some of the younger members of the family were making family trees in school. They began to ask about Fiona and why they never heard from her. ‘Oh she lives too far away to be interested in us,’ was the reply.

Fiona’s life was indeed busy and in truth, she knew that she did not have much time to be thinking about distant cousins, aunts and uncles. However she had an inkling of their sentiments towards her so that when she thought of them they seem to represent a small grey hole in her life. She would have preferred rather to picture a distant circle of light joined to her over the seas by a silver thread of positive connection. She was aware of that silver thread connecting her to those who had passed on and whom she knew and loved in her old life. She thought of them fondly though she had met them but a few times.

Fiona Canada  1

Fiona did not hope for regular connection nor frequent news, nor catching up on the 40 years lived apart, but she felt that it is better to emanate positive feelings towards all ones blood relations rather than to ponder over misunderstandings or to hang on to hurt feelings with a sense of lack of forgiveness.

 

Questions:

Does this story remind you of anything in your life?

Why do you think the McTavish family built up their feelings of rejection towards Fiona?

Can you think of examples of whole groups of people building up stories of resentment toward other groups of people over time and history?

What kind of effect might this have on whole populations of countries?

What can we do as individuals to start to improve this situation, as in truth it is happening all over the world?

 

 

The Unhappy Weeping Willow Tree ( A story for young girls, 8 to 12 yrs to combat the trend of dissatisfaction with looks, photoshopping, skinny models, and cosmetic surgery

The Unhappy Weeping Willow Tree

A young weeping willow lived on the edge of a riverbank. From her home she could see fields, hedges, a beautiful wood and a mountain.

People and animals passed by her on the riverside track and would notice how her delicate branches dipped and swayed. “How lovely!” they all thought. But the weeping willow was not happy. As she looked about her she was always finding fault with herself and comparing her shape with other trees.

“Oh,” she sighed “I wish I were taller and could reach high into the sky like that Poplar tree over there”, or “How I wish I had a good wide strong trunk like the Oak, I am so skinny and thin.” or “Ah, look at the interesting shape of the branches in the Scots Pine, my branches are so droopy.” And she went on feeling miserable about herself.

One day two girls came by and sat beside her on the riverbank.

“I like it here by the weeping willow,” said one, “You can hide from the world. It’s like a green cave, isn’t it a lovely tree, Sally?”

“Yes,” said the other, “and I can tell you my secret, Mary, which makes me sad. Being beside a weeping willow seems a good place to feel sad.”

“What is your secret?” asked her friend.

The two girls sat beneath the willow tree 4

“ I am worried about how I will look when I grow up, and I’m worried about if the operations I will need will hurt or if they will cost a lot of money.”

“Sally what are you talking about? There’s nothing wrong with you is there? I mean you look fine to me! What operations do you think you will need?”

“Please don’t tell anyone, Mary, promise me! I think my nose is not straight enough and my ears are too big. My auntie has a flat chest and I don’t want to look like her, so I must get something done to make me bigger. And I hate my freckles.”

“Stop, stop!” said Mary. “Everyone is different from everyone else. You shouldn’t want to change yourself and try to be something you are not. That’s not good thinking. Some people do themselves a lot of harm trying to change themselves.  They are never happy with how they are, even when they have changed.”

Sally looked around at the lovely tree they were leaning on. “I wish I were like this tree,” she said. “Then I’d be happy just being me. It’s so lucky just staying put, looking at its reflection in the water. No one teases it about its freckles or its ears or nose. It must be so contented.”

“Oh you’ve been paying attention to those boys have you? You think that what they say matters? Don’t listen to them Sally, they just say anything at all to get attention.”

The girls stood up. Sally stroked the bark of the Willow. Suddenly she felt better. The girls wandered off along the riverbank.

The willow tree gently waved her branches, she felt better too. It made sense to be happy with what she was and to learn to appreciate her finer points instead of envying other trees for what they were. She decided she would be happy to admire others, but not to wish she could look like them, because everyone is made to be different and that’s how it is, and that’s how it should be.

Questions

How did you feel when you heard the story?

Did it remind you of anything in your life?

Why was the weeping willow unhappy?

What did it want to be like?

What was Sally’s secret?

Why did the tree change its ideas about wanting to be different?

 

 

 

 

A story about ‘Changes’ for 9-10yrs (Dotty has to leave her home)

yogastories:

Now ‘Dotty the Dalmation story’ has a picture. This story is useful for those working with children to be fostered or adopted.

Originally posted on Yoga Stories:

A story about “Changes” (SEAL topic) illustrating the value of LOVE (6mins)

Dotty the Dalmation has to leave her home

Everyone calls me Dotty, but actually I am ‘Miranda Saint Edmunds the Second’.  I am a Dalmatian.  I come from a long line of famous dogs.  I am sure you know my breed; we are white, spotted all over with black dots.  We are considered to be very pretty and a little stupid – hard to train – you know the sort of thing; we don’t like to ‘fetch’ or to ‘sit’.  We just like to do our own thing.

When I was born, my owners had plenty of money.  The husband worked in the city, in ‘The Bank’, and the wife had no job as such.  She bred us Dalmatians and spent of lot of time walking us on Hampstead Heath.  She had lots of friends who were all…

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Bullying in the Workplace. A therapeutic story to help victims of bullying for adults

 This story came to me in meditation.  It is about a time in the 1950s.  The attitudes in it are quite shocking to most of us these days, but bullying certainly does still go on, as we all know.  It is never acceptable, for any reason.  Most people are more broad minded and accepting of those who are not quite like themselves.  See what you think. It is an example of bigotry which can appear in many forms.

Bullying in the Workplace     

Morag was born in Glasgow. When she went to school everyone spoke in the same way, they used the same slang, they understood each other. She went on to college in Scotland and trained to work in the bank.

 

Morag found it hard to get a job in Scotland. She decided she would have to travel south of the border to get work. She found a bank teller’s post in Nottingham. Morag found it quite difficult to make friends there. Everyone spoke differently from her and they did not seem to understand what she was saying. She too found that she had to repeat herself a lot. People looked at her as if she was stupid when the words came out of her mouth. She felt it was hard to believe that she and they came from the same country.

 

She realised that something would have to change if she was to be understood. She started to copy what she heard – the local accent. She did not go as far as calling other people ‘ma dook’ meaning ‘my duck’, the normal friendly way of addressing others in Nottingham. Gradually she found she had tuned in with the locals. She understood them and now with her newly acquired Nottinghamshire accent they understood her. However there was one person whom she could never seem to please or understand. He was the manager of her line manager. Fortunately her line manager was pleasant enough, but Mr Sneyd was not. He took every opportunity to make horrible jibes about the Scots when ever she was in earshot. At the copying machine he would imitate her accent when he spoke to others. He never spoke to Morag but made reference to her in front of her to other people. He was a jokey sort of character, but his jokes were always at someone else’s expense. He was a social climber and endeavoured to impress those above him with his quick wit and self-declared talents.

 

One day Morag decided she had had enough. She had a choice – to leave the job or to face up to the bully. After all she had done nothing to offend him except to be herself. There were four people standing around the copier, Sneyd was among them, holding forth as usual, bragging about his golfing prowess. Morag approached.

‘Ah, here comes the Gorbals; no golf courses in that part of town, I’ll be bound ‘ said Sneyd.

‘Why?’ asked Morag. The other three staff looked embarrassed. Sneyd was surprised. ‘We weren’t addressing you,’ he said.

‘No,’ said Morag ‘You never do, you just talk about me, not to me and I’m at a loss as to understand why.’

‘Well I couldn’t expect a Scot to understand much, could I? `That thick Scottish accent, it’s a wonder you can understand yourself.’

The other staff looked sheepish, one sniggered. There were no laws against workplace bullying in those days. Morag was furious.

 

‘You are nothing more than a classroom bully. Don’t you think it’s time you grew out of it?’ she said. Morag decided at that moment that she wanted nothing more to do with her job in that place. She marched into the manager’s office and told him she was leaving because of Sneyd. She poured out her anger and frustration.

‘Miss Fife, why have you not complained before ? This kind of behaviour will never do.’

 

Morag knew it was an empty platitude as she had seen Sneyd talking to the manager in pally, boastful way about his golf. She guessed they probably discussed her foreign ways on the golf course.

 

I know all this because she was my mother and she told me the story of her first job in England. She told me she went to London where they were more accepting of people with all sorts of different accents, beliefs and ways of life.

 

It wouldn’t be tolerated these days – bullying in the workplace is illegal now. No one should get away with it and if it happens to you, you need to be brave and to report it because if someone is bullying you for some reason the chances are that they are bullying someone else too. Only reporting it and standing up for yourself will put a stop to it. You have to report it to a higher and higher level of management if those lower down are not prepared to deal with it. It must not be tolerated or we will be back to the laws of the jungle where might is right.

The Dangers of Telling Half Truths (story to illustrate a common problem amongst young people today)

The Danger Of Telling Half-Truths.

A story requested by Anne, a teacher, concerned about her students’ dishonesty and lack of responsibility and how it will affect their future lives.

My name is Philip. I have a great deal of experience of telling half-truths. I used to avoid my responsibilities and duties by only saying part of what had happened. In the end, no one believed anything I said. I was not trusted any more, and was thought of as a joke. I wriggled out of things to avoid work, and eventually no one would give me any work. There was no unemployment benefit in those days and I ended up stealing things to stay alive. Finally, I found myself in behind bars. I hated prison, everyone was a liar there. You couldn’t trust a soul. In the outside world people told the truth and I knew what to expect from them. It was just me who was the liar. I thought it was all right to tell only half the story, what I spoke of was true, but by not telling the whole story, I was trying to make people believe something that was not real. That made me a liar, but I would not admit it, even to myself.

I will give you an example. I had three brothers, we all had our duties to do on my father’s farm. It was hard work but as my father said, ‘It puts food on the table. Do you want to eat? Then you have to work.’

We each had certain jobs to do around the farm. Mine was to feed the cows during their morning milking, amongst other things. I had to carry hay or silage to the milking parlour. It was cold, wet and dark in the winter. The best way of doing the job was in the evening before dark, then the feed would be ready for the cows in the morning. If you left it until morning you would be fumbling around in the dark or half light, falling over tools someone else had left around.

Last thing at night Father would ask me. ‘Did you fetch in the hay?’ I always said ‘Yes,’ whether I had not. I might have put the proper load in for the cows, or just a handful , thinking that I would do it next day. Come the morning I would finish the job.

Father hated that, seeing me stumbling around half awake with armfuls of hay, while he was trying to milk the cows.

‘You said you fed them last night. What are you doing now?’

‘I did feed them, but mother called me in for supper and you know how vexed she is when we eat the meal when it’s cold.’

I was full of excuses. I just wanted an easy life.

Father warned me that the cows would go dry if we did not did feed them enough and said that because I was such a liar, he never knew how much fodder they had eaten.

I just thought he was a bad tempered old man and continued with my half-truths and excuses. The cows did go dry, no milk came from two of them. I knew it was my fault. I was giving short rations because I would have to shift a mountain of hay from a distant barn when the supply close to the parlour ran out.

Father exploded. ‘You useless pile of cow dung! You can go and work for someone else. You are no use to me or your mother.’ He banned me from the farm. That’s when my life took a downward spiral. The little work I had soon came to an end because the employer quickly discovered I was not to be trusted, either for the truth, or because of my habit of taking things which were not mine to take. I was soon in prison.

Eventually I did learn that I needed people to trust me if they were going to employ me. The rewards of being trusted and  the satisfaction of doing a good job were far away better than the pleasure of skipping work and getting away with doing as little as possible.

Questions

When do you think this story took place?

Where did Phillip live and work?

Why did he tell only half the story – or ‘half truths’ as he called them.

What was the effect of telling half truths on him?

Why was his father so angry with him?

Does the story remind you of anything in your life?

Is it better to tell the truth and get into a bit of trouble, or to tell half truths and never be trusted as a result?

What is the problem if no one ever trusts you?

How does it feel when you know you are always honest and so does everyone else?

What are the benefits of being trustworthy?

 

 

 

 

The Fight Within- a woman discovers she has cancer. Therapeutic short story.

The Fight Within.

A requested story for a friend of HT

 

Mary couldn’t sleep. It was still dark outside, no sounds came through her closed curtains ; the world had not yet stirred. Mary’s mind was in turmoil. Now she knew for sure what she had suspected for some weeks. It was cancer. The wait after the test over a weekend had felt like forever. She had thought over her entire life remembering all the good bits and the bad, wondering if something she had done could have created this lump in her body.

Mary’s family were not yet fully grown, they still needed their mother. They were learning to become independent, but she felt they still needed a lot of support. Her husband Robert would be all right. Always independent, doing his own thing, he wouldn’t suffer if she went , she thought. Her life had not been quite what she had hoped for so far. She was more of a reactor then an instigator. Life had happened to her rather then she had made it happen. She had not been ambitious and had not made demands on her family. Rather the opposite was true, they had made demands on her and she had complied. What should a mother do other than look after her kids? She fetched and carried them , she gathered up their dirty washing strewn on the floor and dealt with it. She cooked their favourite meals and often felt they might show more consideration and gratitude. She was tired of nagging them; it seemed easier just to do everything herself. She had not insisted that they thanked her for the meals she carefully prepared for them or for keeping the home nice. They were oblivious to her need for recognition and she wasn’t about to tell them how she felt.

Mary thought about how she would do things differently if she survived this. She told herself that the statistics were good these days. Doctors were much more on top of cancer. Most people survived it. Strangely, the idea of telling her family that she wanted more help and appreciation was more daunting to her than telling them that she had cancer. It almost felt like a weakness in her, yet she knew it was not. Her weakness had been in letting them all do exactly what they wanted, without insisting on some return, which would make her life easier and more pleasant. They were not bad kids, they were just selfish and oblivious to a different and better way to behave. It had been her duty and her husband’s to guide the children and they had not. Her husband had grown used to her saying ‘Oh, I don’t mind’, and it had suited him to believe her. He did not take his fair share of parental duties, but as she did not complain, he continued to ignore the situation.

The small knot of resentment had grown and now she had cancer. She had heard that stress can cause all sorts of ills, including cancer, and suddenly she wondered if her bitterness was showing up in her body. It was time to shake up her life. She needed new goals and she needed help to achieve them. The only person who could change things for her was herself. She saw it now. Taking the line of least resistance was not an option now. She made a list of things that would have to change, it was not a long list, but it was a very important one.

Mary stuck the list on the fridge door with a magnet and went back to bed and slept. The following day was a Sunday. Normally she would be the one to get up and make the breakfast. On this day she slept on. At 10 o’clock her husband appeared with tray, on it was a pot of tea and some toast with butter and marmalade. He looked sheepish and embarrassed.

‘Oh, thank you Robert. I thought you were off to golf this morning.’ she said.

Mary’s son and daughter appeared at the door. They looked upset and worried . ‘Hello Mum,’ was all they could say.

Robert reached into into his back pocket and took out Mary’s fridge list. He put it on the tray, Mary noticed ticks on all the items, they looked like marks of agreement. The family had at last come together and had seen what needed to be done for their mum.

‘I’m going to fight it,’ said Mary, ‘but I don’t want to have to fight you too. Thanks for the ticks. Promise me that you’ll remember to go along with it? It is fair enough, isn’t it? All I want to do is to be able to train as…. an astronaut. …That’s not too much to ask, is it? ‘

Her smile told them they were forgiven and she hoped that all their tears were a promise of the help and support she needed.