Reflection 4: Storytelling

“There isn’t anyone you couldn’t love once you’ve heard their story. ”

I think it’s so important for us as learner developers to humanize learning. Stories make learners care. They can also take abstract learning and ground it in the real which helps learners empathize. 

When I first considered the role of storytelling in education, my mind instantly went to the humanities and the social sciences. English, Literature, Religious Studies, Anthro… but those disciplines are all learning ABOUT stories. Learning through stories has much wider applications. 

I completed my undergrad degree in 2007 in Computer Science. Reflecting back on my studies, some of the most memorable lessons were story based. Problems were introduced as stories: the man who needed to get home while visiting the fewest number of gas stations between point A and point B; creating an equitable barter system economy; programming the commons dilemma. 

A few months ago I was fortunate to attend a case-based teaching workshop. They discussed the structure of a case, and every case started with a story. Every story began with a character. The cases gave a brief introduction of the person’s background- their family, their job, their motivations, their stresses, and suddenly the student is engaged and eager to solve the problems. I think it’s a great tool for guiding learning even in less obvious disciplines. 

I really enjoyed Andrew Stanton’s TedTalk on the power of storytelling and the elements of a great story: 

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