Scientists have long known that human beings are storytelling creatures. As Africans, we have told stories to transmit information, share histories, and teach important lessons. Stories often have a profound effect on us based on the content and recent research also shows that our brains are actually hard-wired to seek out a coherent narrative structure in the stories we hear and tell. This structure helps us absorb the information in a story, and connect it with our own experiences in the world.
Educators can create memorable learning experiences for their students by harnessing the power of storytelling in the classroom. A 2010 study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences showed an intimate connection between the brain activity of speakers and listeners in conversation, demonstrating how the brain of an engaged listener “syncs up” with a speaker. By engaging students with compelling stories that impart important material, teachers reach students both emotionally and biochemically, increasing the potential for rich learning experiences.
An edited extract from "The science of Learning Blog" Sherrelle Walker, M.A. July 2012.