“History is just stories.” My father told me when I frowned at the voluminous history text-book. “All the kings built rest houses, erected pillars and had beautiful gardens!” he continued.
I laughed and said, “But the dates!” So boring….for that matter all the subjects were just too much to study, even back then when I was a student! I heard the echo in my sons’ vehement outbursts when they were at school. And I hear it now from school children and parents. Nothing much has changed, really.
But , today, as a storyteller I know that stories can effect a change. As one who not only tells stories and shares storytelling experiences, but also conducts workshops for teachers and trains them to package their lessons as stories, I know for a fact that the education system could use stories as a mode of instruction.
Let me hasten to add that not only are stories exclusive to academics, they are the perfect tools to instill all the good values that we often lament have now taken a backseat, in the younger generation. If you are wondering just how, watch this video to get just a glimpse!
There are way too many studies that declare stories are the best means to retain and disseminate information to children and adults-just search the internet!
Hailing from a teaching background I wish I had known this trick back then! It would have made teaching and learning so much more fun-I bet I would have had so many more grateful students! But, I am happy that atleast now I am an advocate of teaching through stories.
The lesson-story package creates an interesting space for the teacher and the taught.
Everybody loves a tale and children are ever so keen to learn. So teaching through stories will keep them absorbed and hold their attention completely-provided the “teacher story teller” tells the story (read lesson) interestingly. And that is where storytelling engages the teacher. How can I tell a story on this topic? How can I help create a visual picture that will cement the understanding of this concept in the student’s mind? These questions will help each teacher tap into her or his own creative potential and set the individual’s dormant imagination spinning.
This then paves the way for an interesting activity for both -teacher and student. By now you should have conjured a vivid picture of the classroom! Isn’t that an enchanting one?
I read a newspaper article last year where a Professor at one of the top institutions in India taught difficult engineering subjects via stories- there would be no absentee in his class!
Every subject under the sun can be taught through the simple, easy and effective medium of stories. For example, folktales are rich in language, mathematical, geographical, historical and scientific information. Similarly, fairytales, anecdotes, fables, epics and other story formats offer immense potential as teaching material.
If one looks, one can find many stories out there and there are always the new ones each of us can create to get the lesson across. So, why not try this method today? All it takes is a little change in mindset, a will to experiment, a desire to be adventurous and the conviction to live an idea.
Welcome a change in your teaching strategy. Open up to an experience that stretches your imagination, unlocks your creative potential and takes your teaching to an exciting level. Believe in the lessons -as -stories package because “Where a lesson is, a story exists too!”
And tell the world your story.
Because great content deserves re-runs- This article was first published on Kidskintha on 27th April 2015.
Asha Sampath is an educator turned professional storyteller. As a service officer’s wife she has taught in schools across India and also served as principal of two IAF-run schools. She truly believes in the power and magic of stories. In her words, “Since stories are not limited by barriers of age, field or time, they offer limitless possibilities to transform individuals and thereof society.” She is passionate about reviving the oral tradition and conducts storytelling sessions and workshops regularly. To help spread awareness about stories and storytelling, she began a Facebook page Tale Spin: a platform for stories (www.facebook.com/TaleSpinaplatformforstories) which she updates frequently with useful information. She is an advisor for the Chennai Storytelling Festival conducted annually and a coordinator for the growing band of Chennai Storytellers.