As a learning designer I believe in the power of stories to sustain attention. Our brains are attracted to stories in which the characters struggle and eventually surface unknown abilities to triumph over adversity.
This is why our Learning by Design course is so successful. It places the learner at the heart of the story, this helps learners to absorb information, connect it to their own experience and make decisions using critical thinking skills to influence outcomes
“I have a story to tell you,” is a simple and powerful sentence yet it focuses attention time after time.
Studies have demonstrated, that in contrast to explanations of concepts, narrative texts are associated with increased recall, better comprehension, and faster reading time, stories engage more of our brains than a dry list of facts.
Why do Stories Work So Well as a Vehicle for Learning?
A story accesses more parts of our brain than information presented in a list, which is only accessed by the language processing part of our brain.
We process the information, make meaning and that’s it nothing very magical happens because our brains are not hard wired to retain facts for very long.
Stories are a natural form of sense making that enable us to give meaning to our experiences. We find it easier to present our experiences in the form of stories because it requires less cognitive effort.
How do Stories Develop Thinking, Understanding and Remembering?
Often what we teach is de-contextualized and very well structured. This approach does not align with the complexity of life inside organisations where problems have many sub issues and a range of possible solutions creating a mis match between the process of formal learning and the methods of problem solving being used in non formal settings.
When we are uncertain we are more likely to rely on past experience than abstract principles to inform our decisions. Stories support our thinking, understanding and remembering. This is really useful when teaching novices who have no direct experience of a specific task but do need to understand potential problems and consequences of actions.
The Flaws in Old Solutions
We want learners to experience false starts, dead ends, missing info, all of the issues that lead to rich thinking and prevent a reliance on leaping to old solutions to solve new problems. We want learners to empathise with the characters, feel their pain, and guide them to achieve goals. We want our learners to fall into traps and recognise the consequences of decisions that took them there.
Developing Wizardry with the Stories We Weave
The opportunity came my way today to take the blog Leadership Lessons from the Wizard of Oz and create a story based approach to leadership development. So, with a little learning design wizardry I begin to map out a narrative structure to engage the learners on a learning journey. Of course they will encounter the usual lions who lack courage, tin men who are corroding, and scarecrows whose insights are crippled by a crisis of confidence on route to Emerald City.
Goal – Emerald City
My goal is to get them to Emerald City with all of the resources they need and a little more courage, brain power and heart and a story to tell about the learning that delivered the self confidence to apply new skills in a volatile business environment
For learning that’s designed to engage learners in developing the competencies required at work – contact Spectrain