Learning through Narratives
Traditionally, oral storytelling has served as a means to pass knowledge from one generation to the next (Nicol et al, 2012). These stories are often embedded in experiential learning. Lessons carried through familiar and recurring characters, delivered at just-the-right times, are directly related to the learner’s world (Hare, 2011); including mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional aspects. This personal connection deepens learning and promotes curiosity.
In practice, this could include strategies such as introducing new concepts with a story. By providing accompanying prompts to the story, students are guided towards discovering the focus of a lesson, and engagement through curiosity is fostered. Questions of science should be explored in an authentic context as much as possible. For example, biology should address the immediate environment and include actually being outside interacting with the land.
Remembering that a story or narrative does not have to be traditional folklore makes this task much more attainable. Stories might be fictional or nonfictional, contemporary or historic. One might make use of current events, such as the Standing Rock Pipeline dilemma in North Dakota, to frame issues such as environmental protection, land rights, and the right to peaceful protest. Narratives do not even need to be necessarily of an indigenous focus. Literature can be selected thematically or based on topic. The idea is to engage learners through storytelling.