The Power of Storytelling in Teaching: Part 1
The ability to tell a good story is a real talent. Some people can make the process of going to get the mail sound like The Ulysses by James Joyce. I couldn’t tell you what some people’s stories were about because they put me to sleep too quick. Stories are important for entertainment, but they are also important for education. Stories can inform or provide context. In this two part series, we will look at two great examples of this. They are Storycorps and TED Talks.
We are going to talk about Storycorps in this post. This one may seem like the less relevant of the two resources, but it is a powerhouse of a resource. The mission of Storycorps is “to preserve and share humanity’s stories in order to build connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world.” The stories found on Storycorps are varied in scope and it is hard not to find an engaging video. Many of them are quite simply powerful.
German in the Woods: Tells the story of Joseph Robertson and how a single incident in war affected him for the rest of his life.
Traffic Stop: Alex Landau tells a story of his experience with being the victim of racism.
A Family Man: In the true spirit of hindsight is 20/20, Samuel Black reflects on his childhood observations of his father.
These stories feature the voice of the original storyteller, but the video is animated to add a visual aspect. The stories cover common topics, but they add the human touch that you cannot find in a textbook. They can be used as a hook at the beginning of a lesson, to provide a human aspect to a topic, or to bring closure.
The latest feature of Storycorps is really great though. There is now an app that can be downloaded through Itunes or Google Play. The app allows people to create their own stories. Guidelines are provided to add structure. The interviewer either selects questions from a bank of questions categorized by topic, or they can create their own. They also need to provide the person’s name and a length for the interview. The interviewer can either keep the story for themselves, or they can submit it to Storycorps for possible publishing.
The Storycorps app opens up some great possibilities. I remember being required to interview a World War 2 veteran for a US History course once. It would have been great to complete that assignment using a tool like Storycorps. Students can be asked to find a certain kind of story ranging from someone you admire, to a veteran, to a certain type of professional. There are many options with this one.