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Storytelling in Education

Mani Gopalakrishnan 0

Think about the first time you ever heard a story? Chances are you were a child. Stories are everywhere, no matter what country, culture or religion do you belong. It is one of the oldest and yet an influential way to convey a message to human mind. Stories are used to teach values, morals, or to entertain and more. Certainly, stories are capable of motivating an individual to act, to improve or to bring changes in their life and in their performance but it is very important that they are told in an interesting and convincing way.

Improving and bringing positive changes is one of the key goals of corporate trainings. Storytelling can play a pivotal part in enabling trainers or the educational aid reach the learner. The need for speed compromises on quality and the time it takes to creatively tell a story to the learners. This post looks at Freytag’s framework and grazes past the tip of the art of storytelling. Today, wherein the time to think for creative storytelling is very limited – hopefully this framework provides an option.

Narrative Structure

The essence of storytelling lies in its structure know as narrative structure. The narrative structure mainly depends on the content and the goal of the narrative.  Most commonly used narrative structure includes the order in which story is presented to a recipient.  Around 1963, the famous German novelist Gustav Freytags noticed a pattern in almost all the stories and developed a model called Freytag’s Pyramid. This model includes the following five parts to analyze the structure.

  1. Exposition:  Introduction of characters and setting an atmosphere and mood for the story
  2. Rising Action: Story begins to build up and recipient get more interested
  3. Climax: It is a turning point of a story which the most exciting part.
  4. Falling Action : Things start to get resolve and story moves towards its end.
  5. Denouement : It is the end of the story it is also known as resolution.

This model provides a framework to connect the pieces of information/events/tasks in a coherent and comprehensive way.  Of course there are examples wherein the storyteller hasn’t followed any of the above norms but yet made it interesting by structuring them in a cohesive manner and keeping the audience engaged.  The modern and contemporary stories might consider only few parts of the model or they might rearrange the parts in different order, It is absolutely fine as far as the overall structure is in a logical order and recipient enjoys it.

For a professional in the education industry (yes the industry), the above framework can simply help structure their content in the form of a story.  Apart from a logical structure, there are several other characteristics of good storytelling, such as the story is built upon a real life events, war stories, and other ways to connect at an emotional level.

How do you use storytelling in your learning? Share in the comments.

Image Source: Freytag’s Pyramid as listed on http://blogs.ubc.ca/litblog/2010/09/12/narrative-structure/

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