The most famous one is For Sale: Baby shoes. Never worn. Earnest Hemingway famously stated that this six word story contained everything you would expect to find in an entire novel. Many established writers have supported this claim by attempting their own six word stories and there are now websites dedicated to this growing literary form. The WEA took the idea into workplaces where we support workers with their literacies learning needs
Simply showing examples of different stories is enough to get learners started - only minimal explanation is required, and few if any find the task daunting. Soon, learners are creating their own six word stories, sharing their work and developing ideas. It is an enjoyable learning experience and the quick progress they make visibly builds learners’ confidence. Furthermore, tutors have found this to be an excellent foundation for adult literacy learners to develop their skills and knowledge more generally and follow-on discussions naturally lead into areas like word grammar, sentence grammar, spelling, punctuation, word grammar, sentence grammar, vocabulary, genre, audience etc.
Inviting learners to submit stories as part a competition has proved a very effective way of engaging larger numbers, cutting through many of the barriers to learning which can exist around literacy learning in the workplace. A recent NHS GGC competition, supported by WEA was very popular. The organisers received over 1000 stories from workers in many different roles across the NHS – laundry workers, consultants, clerical staff etc. The competition generated a great deal of interest in learning services available to workers across the Board and a workers writers group soon emerged – it continues to be supported by NHS library services. A similar competition at Royal Mail was organised by CWU Union Learning Reps (ULRs). Crime Writer Louise Welsh agreed to judge – she chose her six favourite entries. The competition boosted the profile of the CWU’S learning centre amongst the 700 strong workforce. The ULRs are now putting together a book with all 73 stories to celebrate the authors’ achievements. The book is also designed to serve as a learning resource which will encourage future workplace ALN learners.
Some of our learners stories :
Can't cancel assassins. Sorry about that
Writes six words, wins 1st prize
He hit send, then a tree
All transmission lost. God help us.
“I do”. “I do”. They didn’t
Corpse missing: zombie is prime suspect