of Storyline Studies in Scotland
Davidsson & Kajsa Classon - November 2001
6am Kajsa picked Maria up to go to Örebro Airport. The weather
was freezing cold (7 degrees centigrade below zero) and we had packed
warm clothes in two big suitcases. In the afternoon we landed at Glasgow
airport and it was warm! (13 degrees centigrade). Now we had to search
for our hotel. The town had steep streets and we had too many clothes
on and with us, but finally we checked in at Theatre Hotel.
After leaving our
things in the rooms, we took a map and went out to see the town. We
had read about a market and we decided to try to find it. While looking
at the map for Barras Market some friendly people offered their help
and we succeeded to come there before they closed. On our way back to
the hotel it had gotten dark and we passed a square that was lit up
by millions of different coloured lamps. It was very beautiful!
SUNDAY 25th of
was our free day and we decided to see Edinburgh (luckily, it was so
pretty!) We went on a guided tour around the town and saw a lot of beautiful
sights. A bagpipe player even welcomed us!
Back in Glasgow
in the evening, we called our friend Steve and told his answering machine;
"See you at your University tomorrow!" That evening he called
and told us to meet him at Milngavie (a suburb of Glasgow) station the
MONDAY 26th of
of expectations we went to the train station close to our hotel. We
saw children wearing their school uniforms (boys with shorts in November!)
and grown up men wearing skirts! "Wonder what kind of a Scottish
man Steve would be?" After a short trip through the countryside
we managed to meet Steve at Milngavie station and he drove us to Strathclyde
In the 1960s Steve
Bell worked in Jordanhill College, now known as the Faculty of Education
of the University of Strathclyde. Together with two others in what was
known as The Inservice Staff Tutor Team and over a long period of time
working with teachers, headteachers and advisers in the area they formed
the Storyline method. In the beginning they called it "Topic Work".
We also found out
that Storyline is bigger abroad than in Scotland (popular and well known
in Scandinavia and the US). Steve told us about different ways of working
with "themes" like "shops, hospitals and historical episodes",
and he showed us the library with lots of good literature.
At lunchtime Steve
took us on a trip to Ross Priory Staff Club, a beautiful building by
Loch Lomond. We were struck by the wonderful views, green countryside
and the colours of the trees. There were sheep and golf courses all
over the place, and all the people we met were so friendly. But they
spoke with a strange accent and told us we had a funny sound to our
Back in Milngavie
we took a walk to look at a little Scottish village. The traffic in
Britain is very confusing (they drive on the wrong side of the road!)
Kajsa looked to the left and found no traffic but when she stepped out
in to the road there was a whole bunch of cars coming from the right!
met us at Milngavie station this morning too. He took us to Aberfoyle
Primary School in Stirlingshire (78 pupils 3 to 12 years old), a little
school in the countryside. Here we met Headteacher Mrs Carol Omand.
She was a little nervous today, because a School Inspector was coming
to prepare for a general inspection of the school, but we got time to
interview her before the Inspector arrived.
we got the chance to introduce ourselves to the pupils. They had heard
about the visit from abroad and were very curious. We also had our digital
camera with us and were allowed to take some pictures of their picturesque
school (typical old Scottish sandstone building located in beautiful
surroundings). Every time we stepped out of the school building there
was a new kind of weather! Cloudy when we came, then sunny, raining,
snowing and then hail.
After lunch the
teachers showed us a lot about their Storyline work and we got to talk
with the children about it. The atmosphere in the classrooms was very
disciplined. We helped the pupils when they made their clay volcanoes
erupt with vinegar and baking powder. Then they taught us typical Scottish
We saw their afternoon
break and Steve told us there were "helpers" on the schoolyard
looking after the kids. They had yellow vests. When the recess was over
we were surprised to see an eightgrade gather the younger children and
making them walk in to the school quietly.
The last lesson
we spent with the 5-6 years old. They asked us where we came from and
we talked about Sweden and said we came across the sea. A little boy
asked if we went by boat and Kajsa said it took such a long time, so
we flew by aeroplane. Then he asked Maria why we didn't take a fast
All the children
(except for the 3-4 years old) had an integrated school day and finished
at 3.15 pm. We saw their parents coming to pick them up in their cars.
It felt sad for us to leave this pretty little school and we really
enjoyed our visit there!
Back in Glasgow
at our hotel we sat down in a cosy British study room with a fireplace
and discussed our impressions of the day. We also prepared for the next
day and our educational visit at a larger school in a town called Stirling.
we arrived at the Charing Cross station this morning the man in the
ticket office recognized us. We said; "We are going to
Stirling" he continued, "are you schoolteachers?"
he asked. "How can you tell?!" we wondered. " We have
foreigners here who are teachers and they all go to the same places
At Queen Street
Station (the central station) we tried to find our train at the timetable,
but it was very confusing to us. We tried to ask but didn't understand
their system of schedule. It took a real long time until our train arrived
and even longer before it left. Steve met us 40 minutes late and said
"didn't I tell you about our Scottish train system
In Stirling, at
St Ninians Primary School, we met the head teacher and spoke to her
(most of the head masters in Britain are female). She showed us the
school and we visited several classrooms and their new staff room. They
had bought new furniture from the Swedish company IKEA which they were
so pleased with. The pupils also had their break and we were so surprised
to see them eating candies and crisps (in Swedish schools you are usually
not allowed to eat candy!).
recess we got to see several Storyline works in progress. We could feel
that there were different atmospheres in the different classrooms and
were discussing what the reason could be. Was it due to the topic, the
pupils or the pedagogic leader? In the last class they learned about
the Jacobines and we got to hear the teacher talk and read about them
for a long time. When we asked the children some of them thought it
was interesting and others not. A few did not like to read, write and
draw in their books and some proudly presented their work to us.
Steve had to leave
us at lunchtime and we left shortly afterwards. We said goodbye and
finished our visit. When we walked towards town we saw "lollipopmen"
holding their stick, helping the kids across the street. At our school
in Sweden the oldest pupils (12-13 years old) help the younger children
getting on and off the school bus.
In the afternoon
we saw the beautiful town and castle of Stirling before we took the
train back to Glasgow. We felt kind of sad sitting at our hotel the
last night in Scotland, talking about the events of the day.
the morning we packed our luggage, with Christmas presents and all.
It was difficult to close the suitcases! We had heard it was very expensive
to shop in Scotland (especially with the bad rate of exchange to our
currency) but we found that there were lots of things of good value
to buy in Glasgow.
We left our heavy
luggage at the hotel while we went on our last walk in to the city.
There we caught a tourist bus to sightsee Glasgow. It is such a beautiful
town and that surprised us too, since people had been telling us it
was ugly, dirty and industrialized. Back
at the Theatre Hotel we said goodbye to the nice people working there
and took a taxi to the bus that took us to the airport. We
were back in Örebro 10 pm, tired and very pleased with our journey.
It was so interesting to see the pupils and their teachers work with
In January we had
a "Storyline-evening" with all our colleagues at Almbro. Five
of the teachers had been to a seminar with Steve Bell in Stockholm.
They made us make a small hospital theme. We showed our pictures and
shared our experiences and we talked about how to work with Storyline
at our school
THANK YOU everyone
at Aberfoyle and St. Ninians Primary Schools for your hospitality and
to all the friendly people helping us finding our way in Scotland !
Last but surely not least THANK YOU VERY MUCH Steve Bell for being so
nice to us. You gave us so much of your time, thoughts and wisdom.
The school that was visited has had high praise from school inspectors.