I read the other day about a teacher who asked their young class whether they would like a story read to them, or a story told to them. Without pausing to think they all said ‘tell’ us a story.
Excuse the pun, but that is very telling. I reckon they instantly and instinctively knew that being told a story was going to be more engaging, and an experience, rather than something being read, more by rote, to them.
Our relationship to story is primal and it strikes a note at the heart of our brain, in the limbic system. Rational and more linear information does not sink in the same way.
So our brains are ‘hard wired’ to accept story as the most powerful way for us to learn.
Scientists believe this goes way back over many millennia to when we first evolved to become mammals. Esteemed American psychologist Renee Fuller says that we learnt what is called ‘object constancy’ where we became aware of stimuli that enabled us to distinguish danger. We eventually came to form language, with nouns to describe this stimuli and then developed verbs to describe actions, so snakes bite and lions attack. These linkages of object to action in ancient times were critical to our survival as they warned us of danger, and alerted us to the presence of food.
These cognitive links for humans became the way we formed story.