My research is largely devoted to transformational storytelling. That can mean many things: stories for education, therapy, counseling, moral instruction, identity management, and on and on and on. What’s more, the concept of stories that transform lives (like everything else in scholardom) has the potential to be very esoteric, theoretical, and abstract. These facets of any research are important, but I do not which to do research for research sake. If transformational stories are to change lives there must be practical applications with models and methods for applying them.

To that end, I am beginning a new series entitled The Basics of Educational Storytelling. Largely derived from my master’s thesis, The Value and Principles of Educational Storytelling (which can be read here), this series hopes to lay the foundation for an educational storytelling model regardless of setting and medium.

Specifically, we will explore the value, history, theoretical foundation, and basic use cases for educational storytelling as well as common elements of engaging storytelling.

I will describe Five Guiding Principles and explore the differences between teaching social-oriented principles (values, identity, etc) and process-oriented principles (math, science, etc).

We will not (in this series) look at specific settings or agendas (like classroom storytelling, religious instruction, or conflict resolution). Specific mediums will be also intentionally minimalised, since a good story can be told through film, prose, graphic design, or even sitting around the campfire. Those will be investigated in other posts.

Series Contents

  1. Series Home
  2. Value of Educational Stories
  3. Elements of Story (Character, Plot, Setting)
  4. Guiding Principles of Educational Storytelling
  5. Principle 1: Hero Audience Bonding
  6. Constructing the Tale, A Hero’s Journey
  7. Constructing the Tale, A Hero’s Growth
  8. Principle 2: Emotion and Learning
  9. Principle 3: Presentation and Craft
  10. Principle 4: Presentation and Learning Profile
  11. Principle 5: Interactivity
  12. Ten Elements of Educational Storytelling (A Review)

Limitations of the Study

Art is largely subjective. What is “good” art to one person may very well be considered rubbish by her neighbor. There are certain commonalities that can be investigated, and craftsmanship has a very important role to play in the creation of art. However, at the end of the day, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The audience’s culture can also become a major limitation to this study. I will focus on hero driven stories. There are several hero-phobic cultures in which this kind of story would not be well received. Furthermore, culture is the lens by which art is interpreted. A difference in culture between the creator and the audience is often futile. To complicate matters further, tiny nuances in the cultures between two audience members.

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Chris Michaels

Storyteller. Researcher. Coder. Innovator. I seek to push the boundaries of storytelling and education.
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