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The Art of Storytelling Tags: charlotte mason classical homeschool classical education well trained mind digital storytelling storytelling in education

I read an interesting article in Inc. magazine about Hollywood producer Peter Guber and his new book, Tell To Win, in which he explains that successful leaders in business and otherwise are often also successful storytellers. He provides a list of who he thinks are the greatest storytellers. 

Among them, Bill Clinton, whom he says, “charms them and disarms them and then rearms them with his narratives." He also mentions Apple Founder, Steve Jobs, whom, he says, has "apostles" for his products who continue to tell his story as their own and move it forward.

This guy Guber teaches at UCLA and says that his students do not have good storytelling skills, and as a result are lacking a key life skill. He feels that most people are born with an innate storytelling ability but usually lose it by the time they’re around nine or ten. (Could it be that only a few years spent in structured school environments, where rote memorization and regurgitation are paramount, and one loses one’s capacity for creative thought)?

What this Guber guy is getting at -- that storytelling is a skill that should be practiced and honed – is something a lot of homeschoolers already understand and have been doing with their children, because it also happens to be a great way to learn and sharpens communications skills. There may be times in our children’s adult lives (now or as adults), when they will be called upon to impart ideas through presentations, speeches, motivational messages, or engage in preaching, selling, coaching, instructing or any number of other activities. 

Storytelling and Narration

There are teaching philosophies and methods that embrace narration as a central component. Charlotte Mason comes to mind. A major part of this educational method is to use what are called “living books” (written in story form) instead of dry textbooks to inject some life and interest into what can be dry subjects. Then a child is encouraged to narrate or tell back in his own words what was just read or heard.

Even if you’re not a follower of Charlotte Mason, you’ve probably used this method with your kids because it’s a great way to evaluate if they understood the information they just took in. Narration helps kids develop skills they don’t get from just rote memorization, namely, having to organize their thoughts, improving their use of language by using words (vocabulary) and sentence structure that they learned from whatever it is they read, having to recall information and details, and improving speech and writing skills.

There is much information on the web regarding Charlotte Mason, but here are a few links with articles on the method, its benefits, and suggestions for developing oral and written narration skills. 

Simply Charlotte Mason

Using Narration

Benefits of Narration

Besides Charlotte Mason, there are other curriculum and teaching methods out there that are described as “neo-classical,” educational approaches that emphasize vocabulary development, critical thinking and logic, grammar and rhetoric. Some links: 

Well-Trained Mind

What is narration and benefits

Using narration in everyday life

Science curriculum that uses narration

Classical Christian Homeschooling

Digital Storytelling

Technology has added a new twist to storytelling, with tools for Digital Storytelling.

Examples and How-Tos


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