Monday, September 27, 2010

Teaching as story telling (updated post)

This is a reworked post:

Three years ago, we held a function at the school for retiring teachers. One of them, a fan of the classics, said: "teaching is about story telling. I believe even Maths teachers should be story tellers."

That day was also the last day of school for our students. My year 7s started quoting back to me stories and jokes I had told them about Mathematics. It was both interesting and surprising to see what had stuck in their minds. This has encouraged me to tell more "grandfather stories" in class. Recently, a year 7 student said to me: "I will never forget anything you taught me this year because you always add a story."
I remember my dad telling me stories on the way to school every morning. Many of these were Gospel or literary parables. Others were simply drawn from daily life.

In one tutorial during my teaching diploma, a student started discussing the merits of teaching parables to children. She wanted religious and literary stories replaced by modern parodies. I took issue with that and advocated original stories, whether they occur in the Bible or Shaekspeare, be told as they are.  The meaning and the words would grow on the students over the years. This suggestion of mine was met with ridicule from my peer. She declared that all modern students could think about was "drugs and sex." I'd hate to think what kids of stories she wanted to tell!

I still remember many of the stories that my parents told me. I hope that my children will find the stories I tell them equally memorable. I also hope that I can be a good story teller to my students, whether teaching Maths or IT.

What do you think about the role of stories in teaching?

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