Storytelling and Learning

Storytelling has been with us since we were capable of crafting concepts. We look at cave paintings - these tell stories.  We look at elaborate paintings on walls of tombs in Eygpt. These tell stories.  Cuneiform text on clay tablets from Sumer - stories.  Pictograms on pottery? Stories. Papyrus, vellum, and paper have all been used to record stories throughout the ages. These stories were not always simple historical recordings of events. Many times these were allegorical tales that were part of the culture and served as a means of imparting wisdom.

In short - stories have always been with us.

In the world of Academia, there have been recent shufflings and conversations surrounding the inclusion of storytelling in the classroom.  These conversations are not merely touching on the use of stories in grade school or secondary learning classrooms. Storytelling is being reviewed (and used) in the halls of Higher Education as a means of delivering relevant information to adult learners.

Wait a minute (you may say) - you mean University Professors are telling stories to students instead of having them crack books and read facts all day long?  Why yes, indeed they are.

Storytelling is a means of delivering information in a means that is both relatable and memorable. The purpose of teaching is to impart knowledge to learners and have them retain that information. Adult learners (the science of andragogy) differs from childhood teaching because adult learners prefer to have hands-on experience coupled with examples of how a thing can be directly applied to them in their modern day-to-day lives.  When an instructor takes the time to share educational materials (facts/figures/theories) by demonstrating how these are put to use in the real world, the adult learner makes a more solid connection with the information and retains it better.

Psychologist Jerome Bruner found that when content is contained in a story, the information is almost 20 times more likely to be remembered! (Boris,2017)

That is amazing!

Some colleges and universities now offer classes, certifications, and entire programs on professional storytelling.  These programs are designed to aid professionals in reaching their target audiences with meaningful information in means that we have been using for millennia.

Stories capture our attention, draw us in, create an engaging atmosphere and make knowledge meaningful.

So the next time you crack open a book or sit down in front of a movie, just remember, you may also be learning.

C.S. Kading


Boris, V. (2019, February 04). What Makes Storytelling So Effective For Learning? Retrieved January 31, 2021, from

Malamed, C., Says, P., Mwanga, P., Says, C., Says, Y., Gürkan, Y., . . . Les bienfaits du storytelling appliqué à la formation… | e-learning strategy | says:. (2019, August 21). Why You Need To Use Storytelling For Learning. Retrieved January 31, 2021, from