Spinning a pedagogical yarn: the role of storytelling in the classroom

Class Teaching


The 15 minute forum tonigh was led by Andy Tharby.

Andy started by sharing 3 principles for good teacher explanation:

  • New knowledge should be linked to existing knowledge
  • Ideas should be introduced in clear steps
  • Abstract ideas are made simple and concrete in the listener’s mind

yarn2Good explanations matter, because it becomes very easy to fall into the curse of the expert.  As highly knowledgeable subject experts, it’s very easy for us to forget the steps we took to acquire this knowledge.  So we need to be tactical and strategic, whenever we are explaining new ideas, if we are going to make the information accessible to our students.  Storytelling helps with  this.


Why tell stories?

“Stories are ‘psychologically privileged’.”   We are ‘hard-wired’ to learn from stories, as that’s how early humans learnt from their ancestors, before we had books and other methods of passing on information.

– Daniel Willingham, Why don’t students like school?

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