The Power of Storytelling in Enhancing Learning

“Tell me the facts and I’ll learn. Tell me the truth and I’ll believe. But tell me a story and it will live in my heart forever.

How many of us like listening to a story well told? Have we used stories in the classroom? Storytelling is one of the most natural modes of sharing information. Even before the formal education begins, a child is learning through the stories told by people around him; stories from history, family,  mythology, fairy tales. Stories have the power to engage people .They are fun, inspiring and easy to remember. They convey culture, history, values, which forges connections amongst the audience and unites them. Prime Minister Modi in his recent monthly broadcast ,Man ki Baat, urged people to rekindle the tradition of storytelling. The National Education policy 2020 of India has also highlighted the use of storytelling as a pedagogical  tool.

How does Storytelling enhance learning?

Storytelling has a very powerful role in teaching. The best thing about it is that it immediately catches the interest and attention of the students, thus creating a positive learning environment . Abstract concepts may intimidate a student but if told in a story form, it kind of eases the student into the learning process.

Stories appeal to all types of learning styles. Stories evoke mental imagery or picture that appeals to visual learner .Storytellers voice and tone and way of telling the story goes well with students with auditory learning style. Students with Kinesthetic style learn better as stories evoke emotional connect and feelings.

Stories elicit emotional response and as such connect well with the students They overcome students resistance and anxiety in the class. The shared social experience of provoked emotions like laughter, sadness, excitement enhances the social emotional development in the student.

Stories also provide structure for remembering the course material. It is difficult for a student to remember isolated concepts, but if they are woven in a story, remembering one part of the story helps to recall the rest. Stories are also more engaging than dry presentation of facts and figures. For example ;In class A ,the teacher rattles off the research facts and outcomes to the students .In class B teacher tells a  rich story about what went into the research. How researcher thought about the idea, developed it ,and the challenges faced in the process . The teacher, in the storytelling style, can even build a suspense and then reveal the outcome of the research to the students. In the first class students come out learning only the  facts and numbers  but in Class B students learn the process of ideation, skills of persistence, resilience  ,empathy and teamwork .Students in the second class  have now new knowledge and learning.

Storytelling also helps with learning because stories are easy to remember. Learning which stems from a well-told story is remembered more accurately, and longer, than learning derived from facts and figures (Peg Neuhauser,2012 ). Similarly, facts are 20 times more likely to be remembered if they’re part of a story (Jerome Bruner,2011 ).

Stories have a high recall value . Any concept told in the form of story is not easily forgotten. Advertisers have also understood this strength of storytelling and that is why they are now using the story format to advertise their product. The commercial by company Budweiser  was rated the most popular amongst viewers in USA .According to Keith Quesenberry,a researcher, from John Hopkin’s University it was because of the  power of classic storytelling used in their advertisement .

There is a wealth of resources from where one can draw the  stories ; mythology, history, current events, fiction ,your own life experiences or one can even build a story. Today with the advent of technology , digital tools can be used to tell a story .Digital storytelling combines the best of the two worlds. The “ new world” of multimedia , video ,social media  and the “old world” of telling stories.

 If as an educator you’re trying to engage, influence, teach, or inspire students you should be telling a story. Storytelling is essential.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s