Storytelling is a powerful tool. Through stories, we are able to:
- Identify patterns
- Make connections
- Become empowered
- Learn ways to handle problems
- Identify or eliminate suspects through who, what, and when
- Experience satisfaction
- Test ideas
- Identify and understand the forces empacting us
Cognitive psychologists claim that stories are a fundamental part of intelligence and imagination.
Stories and storytelling are major tools for shaping thought. If we are going to use them as tools, we should do so responsibly. This requires consideration of our intended audience and a definition of our goal(s).
Think of how powerful video vignettes that include people’s stories are, especially if they are showcased with related memorabilia. These stories have the strength to wrestle with conflicting opinions or information. Politicians and advertisers have made great use of them. For example, what was your opinion of Tiger Wood’s lifestyle prior to the Thanksgiving weekend incident? Tiger Woods did not create that image because apparently he was living in a far different way than most people expected or imagined.
There are positive and educational ways to use storytelling. Stories are able to encourage problem solutions, best practices, and lessons learned. The best way for this to occur is through a storytelling session where someone shares one of their stories with the audience, then discussion and information sharing follows.
Educators are able to use storytelling for leaps of understanding. By sharing a story that enables listeners to grasp how something may change, storytelling adds knowledge gains. This builds credibility. Powerful emotions may be released leading to bonding among the audience. Not only this, story gives permission for the exploration of controversial or uncomfortable topics. Responsibility that recognizes the diversity of the population will tread cautiously here because point of view may be swayed and move some towards change. We would not want to be held accountable for creating conflict through the stories that are shared when it comes to the relationships of students and their parents.
On the upside, storytelling is able to create heroes. Sharing stories that provide examples of character-building behavior lifts the spirits. Again, think of your former knowledge concerning the story of Tiger Woods prior to the events that unfolded leading to the tarnishing of his image.
Case studies that are reviewed by students create opportunities for learning. Students are able to succeed by absorbing facts and theories as they review a real problem. The case study may be analyzed with the educator guiding the way. Synthesis of conflicting data may occur. Points of view may be examined. Whatever the case study places in front of the students gives time for seizing an opportunity.
Storytelling is a powerful tool that requires the educator to practice responsibility when using it. Goals should be set that recognize the diversity of students. When done appropriately, storytelling is able to offer an excellent vehicle through which learning may occur.