Chennai Storytelling Festival 2019,
at Loyola College
Sat 9 Feb 2019, for Adults --
"Storytelling for Teaching-and-learning any Academic Subject".
One can use any kind of story (real-life, fictional, etc.) to bring material up, raise points, and put these matters into play. Then students could work and play with the material in various ways, including intellectually, or in metaphorical terms.
Examples. Illustrations. Specific Problems.
A student is motivated to find the answer in an example, because the student identifies with the characters in the story, and wants to be sure the solutions are correct for these characters' sakes.
If there are 4 apples and 2 children, and if each child would get the same number of apples, how many apples would each child get?
If a train is traveling at 40km per hour, how many hours would it take to travel 240km?
If a train is traveling at 40km per hour, how many kms would it go after 6 hours?
If a train takes 6 hours to go 240km, at what speed (at how many kms per hour) is the train traveling?
Science, Medicine, Engineering, Environmental Sciences, Biology, Chemistry
One could tell:
1) The story of how one got interested in this field.
2) Case studies of advancements in a field.
The Life Stories of Inventors, Explorers, Discoverers, etc.
Who are one's heroes/heroines in a field?
What were the conditions?
What did the innovator have to go through to make the advancement, and make it known?
3) Stories relating to lectures and lesson-plans.
What issues, questions, problems, conflicts, processes, formulas do you want your students to think about?
What issues do you want them to be able to debate?
Regarding what topics do you want your students to be able to see and understand,
1) from two or more sides?
2) the pro's and con's, the advantages and disadvantages, of various solutions, approaches, or points of view?
Stories can help learners visualise phenomena, and understand situations clearly and vividly. Stories can be fun, and can help learners get emotionally-involved.
Participants might be asked,
a) "What subject to you teach?" "In what academic discipline are you in?"
b) "Please select one lesson you have taught students, or might like to teach students".
c) To use the terminology of a Lesson Plan: "What is the objective of the lesson? What should the students learn? What facts do you want them to absorb? What principles do you want them to become familiar with, and be able to apply?" The lesson involves something one wants one's students to think about -- to understand, and to understand the importance of.
Educators often say: "We do not want to teach students what to think. We want to teach them how to think".
A saying that illustrates this point is: "If you give someone a vegetable, they can eat once. If you teach someone how to grow a vegetable (and help them to obtain the needed farm equipment) -- they can eat during their entire lifetimes."
Stories can teach what and how.
Sometimes when one wants students to think about and learn something, they are not paying attention. They are not absorbing it. Not retaining it. Not interested in it. In such cases, one needs to capture their imaginations.
The "teaching-by-storytelling method" often involves personifying aspects of the matter, personifying abstractions into characters. These characters might be in situations in which they might need to decide what to do next. The characters might want things, have goals, missions. The characters might go on adventures.
So, seek to find or create characters, and a story, that embody elements of the lesson. Present characters that learners can relate to. The learners should be able to understand these characters' points of view -- including what the characters want, and why they want it.
Why use metaphors? Possible answers include: To present a situation clearly and vividly, and to connect a new situation with previously-known situations.
Options: Have one character do something a wrong way, and one character do it a right way. Or, have a character do something a wrong way first, and then a right way.
Options: Present a debate between characters. Present a debate within a person (between voices/urges/ideas within a single character).
4) Using personification, tell the story of a struggle of a plant, cell, etc, to fulfill itself.
"Walter the Drop of Water" (the three forms of H2O).
This story uses metaphor (fantasy) to give a warning about causing unintended consequences when one manipulates the environment --
"King Yaa-yaa" (Ecology).
Literature, History, Sociology, Anthropology
Before, during, and/or after reading about the experience of a character -- one could discuss with one's students:
If you were in that position, what wouild you do?
How do you feel about the way that character handled that situiation?
The students project themselves into the story, and identify with the characters.
This helps the students develop their imaginations, and senses of compassion and empathy. It also helps them develop their decision-making processes.