The Science of Storylearning

The Science of Storylearning

Why do we learn so well when we're engaged in a story? 

What if you found out that it’s scientifically proven that your kids will learn better when the information is delivered through story? You’d probably look for ways to teach your kids through story, right? That’s exactly what we did. It worked so well that we created Bear and Squirrel, an organization built to create playful resources for everyday learning. The method is what we call “The Art of Storylearning” and it really is exactly what it sounds like: learning through story. Let’s unpack some of the reasons why Storylearning works so well. 

The Brain was Created for Story

For the sake of investigating this Storylearning model further, let’s unpack four ways that our brain operates really well when a story is told. Much of this science is known through brain scans. We can actually observe the way people process information in real-time thanks to advancements in technology. I think we’ve always inherently known that story works in powerful ways, but now we have proof!

Mirroring Leads to Engagement

When you tell a story, it’s probable that the audience will experience the same brain activity as yours.  Our brains tend to mirror the activity of those around us and the speaker when we hear a story. Why do you think it’s so important to read to children when they are young? You’re teaching them to engage in the same “brain workout” that you are, training them to enjoy story, reading, and information. Now, what if that story contained valuable life-lessons, information, and school-worthy subjects? Yep… they’re brains will engage just like your brains is engaged as you read. This will lead to a deeper understanding and better retention of the content. One last thing… do you have several children and do you desire them to all sit quietly during the same lesson? Try telling a story. If all of the children's brains are mirroring, they will be more likely to simultaneously engage.


Dopamine Creates Lasting Memory

The brain releases dopamine into the system when it experiences something emotionally engaging. Have you ever left a sermon or a lecture and the one thing that you can remember the most is the story or analogy used to make the point? That’s because it emotionally engaged you, releasing dopamine into your system, helping to creating lasting memory. When you teach your children through Storylearning, you’re helping to create lasting memory by stimulating important brain activity at the right time. 


Neural Coupling Helps Them Own It

While listening to a story, our brain starts to create its own "reality”. We imagine the story in our own mind, developing a lasting impression on our brains that allows us to call up that information readily. It becomes “our own”. I’m sure we all have different images of Goliath. Yes, he’s probably huge in our mind. But the details, the sounds, the smells, the environment… we all picture and experience this differently. But the second someone mentions the story of David and Goliath, we recall those mental models, helping us to remember the details of the story with extreme precision. By relating the story to our own experiences, we’re allowed to couple the information with what suits our brains best. This is really important when dealing with a 5 year old, an 8 year old or a 12 year old. They all remember different things for different reasons. A story allows all of them to lock it in their brain for a long time. That's "music to a homeschooling parent's ears". 

Cortex Exercise Strengthens the Brain 

Facts are great. But facts alone only engage two areas of the brain (Broca’s and Wernicke’s area). Now, don’t get me wrong, there’s a time for rattling off facts. If you’re teaching a crew on an Alaskan Crab boat, you may not have time to tell a story about the steps to baiting a pot. Storylearning was created with the young student in mind. It’s during these early years that you want every student using as much of their brain as possible. Mental exercise, if you will. Why not tell a story while delivering a science or history lesson?

    Our conclusion is this: If story engages almost every area of the brain, then it only seems fitting to deliver information through story. Besides, it’s fun! To find out more about Storylearning, click here
     
    Sources:
    New York Times, Your Brain on Fiction
    OneSpot, The Science of Storytelling


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