Storytelling as a teaching method
Language is a complex psychological process, impossible to be estimated and developed separately from thinking or perception. Educational material provided as an interesting and exciting story favours the development of personal traits, demonstrates the uniqueness of each child’s imagination, allows demonstrating activity and creativity. Since modern children spend a lot of their time online, real-life communication becomes an art to be taught. And the storytelling method is just the right thing to apply.
Storytelling is the art of exciting story and of transferring the necessary information through such story in order to affect the listener’s emotional, motivational and cognitive spheres. This method was developed and successfully tested in personal experience by David Armstrong, the Head of Armstrong International company.
In the process of creating storytelling, David Armstrong took into account the well-known psychological factor: stories are much easier to be perceived and comprehended than rules or directives. After a person listens to you, he/she begins to trust you. Thus, it’s much easier for you to convince or motivate such person.
«Verbal creativity is a powerful means of a human’s intellectual development, opening the whole world. From the moment the word becomes for the child the instrument to create new beauty, the child rises to a new level of discovering the world, and reaches a whole new stage in spiritual development. The child wants to express through the word all its excitement and amazement from the world’s beauty.»
V. O. Sukhomlynskyj
Teachers and psychologists all over the world take much interest in storytelling, since presenting the material in the form of telling stories develops the students’ attentiveness and logic, at the same time raising the level of cultural education. Storytelling may be applied at any place and at any time. Stories allow us to tell about how decisions are made and relations are built. By exchanging stories, building emotional connections, the teachers and the students develop more correct and quality inter-relations.
Why is storytelling an effective method for teaching children?
- The children prefer listening to stories rather than reports, descriptions or definitions, since they are easier to perceive (not only the rational perception, but also the emotional sensitivity is involved). Therefore, the principle of educational accessibility is implemented.
- There is a hero in a story, who evolves. And the changes occur in the process of fighting, industrious labour, applying effort, performing complex tasks etc.
- A story is dynamic. Modern children with mosaic thinking will better comprehend a story than a text in other form.
- A story affects the child’s feelings, which increases the concentration of attention. That’s why the children listen to the educational material, perceive it and then can easily reproduce it. The truth is also in the form of a story. Therefore, the principles of knowledge substantiality and emotional education are implemented.
Application of such method allows us to describe our deeds and feelings, to analyze our actions, to evaluate the consequences and to make conclusions for the future. Storytelling is successfully applied in business for promotion of brands and goods att the market. In 2006, this idea was recognized as the best business-idea of the year.
«When I was able to get the child in whose development some serious delays occurred to fabulate a fairy-tale, connecting in imagination several objects from the surrounding world, – then we could say for sure that the child learned to think.»
V. O. Sukhomlynskyj
By applying the storytelling method, the following two results may be achieved:
- activation of atmosphere in the class, relieving the tension, creation of a relaxed atmosphere;
- it is one of the fastest and the easiest ways for establishing a contact between the teacher and the students, a means for attracting and holding the students’ attention.
The following practical methods favour the creation of stories: demonstration of videos with sound; selection of fragments from movies to be told during the lesson; demonstration of a movie the student watched, with further continuation and explanation by the student; comparison of the material from the textbook with the movie’s storyline, expression of the student’s opinion; writing an essay based on the video material shown.
Types of storytelling:
- cultural – telling about the values, morale and beliefs;
- social – a story told by people about other people (you can tell the children the stories from the lives of famous people, which can become an example for building their own lives);
- myths, legends – they are the reflection of culture and remind us of the things to be avoided in order to be happy;
- jump story – everyone loves a story about mystical creatures, when an unexpected final makes us jump from fear; such stories help us overcome our own fears;
- family – family legends keep the stories of our families, passed on from one generation to another, having educational and instructive nature;
- friendly – such stories unite friends, since they remind of a certain experience they had together;
- personal – such stories tell about personal experience and emotions. This type of storytelling is important since personal stories help understand and develop oneself.
Storytelling is a good means for motivation, and persuasion of the students, allowing to inspire them for showing more initiative in the process of education.
For example, we can tell the story of the influence the work of Jules-Henri Poincare, famous French mathematician, physicist and philosopher, “Science and Hypothesis”, published in 1902, on Albert Einstein and Pablo Picasso. Turns out that this universal mathematician, a person able to embrace all the mathematical results of his time, by his work inspired A.Einstein for invention of the relativity theory, and Picasso – for painting a picture and creating the cubism art movement
Stories are the instrument for establishing friendly connections within a class or a group, and are the effective means of carrying a task or an idea through.
Storytelling is a creative narration. Unlike the narration of facts (rendering, description by memory) that is based on perception, memory and reproductive imagination, in the base of a creative narration lies the creative imagination. Core components of such narration must be new images, situations or actions created by the child independently. In the process, the students apply the experience and the knowledge they gained, but combine them in a new manner
A story depends on the audience it is meant for. Any type of story is based on several key principles, distinguishing it from a simple citation of facts: character; intrigue; plot.
Components of a story: hero; storyline; topic and idea. The hero of the story may be an object, a person, a phenomenon, an imaginary creature, the nature, a symbol. The storyline must include the exposition, introduction, unravelling of the plot, climax and resolution.
Examples of educational stories:
- historical narration: how prehistoric artists painted their caves with paints made from berries, charcoal and clay; how the geometry emerged; how the first engine was invented; where the idea of clipping trees came from; the story of coordinates (from a point and unidimensional space to multi-dimensional). Such stories can be enriched with historical references about Euclid, Rene Descartes, Pierre de Fermat, Albert Einstein.
- story about a certain process: for example, the story of measuring the plots of land in Ancient Egypt, creation of mosaics.
The ability of educational narrations based on history, the lives of famous scientists and artists, the history of discoveries in math, physics, biology and chemistry – all this must become not only a means of attracting the students’ attention during the lesson, but also an effective instrument of transferring the essential meanings into the students’ minds.
The art of storytelling is one of the most natural and, at the same time, the most effective means of bringing new quality into the educational process.