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How Storytelling Can Help Students Learn Complex Concepts

November 19, 2019

/ by

Jeff Hersh


Storytelling is a tried and true form of communicating big ideas to listeners. Whether it’s a lesson in morality, conveying meaning of an experience, or even enlightening a listener on a topic, telling a story is a powerful and effective method to teach. Students enter the classroom already well-versed in the art of storytelling as it’s something they’ve experienced their whole lives, whether from family, movies, tv, video games, etc. Tapping into what makes stories engaging and using it to help students learn complex concepts is a key to success.  




Student engagement is important when introducing any new concept. Storytelling helps teachers bridge the gap from students’ background knowledge and current understandings to the new information while keeping their attention. If you’re teaching a historical lesson, a story that puts it into today’s student’s purview will help them make connections and begin to see the concept in terms they already understand. 




A well told story is easier for anyone to remember than facts. Stories engage the listener on emotional levels, creating deeper connections and memories. Introducing a story that students will remember gives you the benefit of referring back to it as you delve into unknown concepts. For example, students learning about dramatic irony would be able to recall what that means to them after hearing a story about irony that pertains directly to their lives.




You will always have a diverse classroom with students of all learning types and abilities.  Some are better with auditory, some with visual, and some are kinesthetic learners who remember through emotional connections and feelings they receive while engaging with a new topic. Storytelling is a way to reach an entire audience as they listen and create mental visuals,  and respond and connect emotionally..  


Storytelling can help students learn complex concepts because it’s engaging and interesting. Reaching students early on in a lesson with a story will ensure they have a foundation to grow from and a structure to rely on as they delve into the topic.


How do you use storytelling in your classroom?  


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