Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Storytelling Through Design Thinking

Every teacher knows the power of a good story. We weave story into our teaching to engage students and all adults have been using story to help children navigate and make sense of the world through the ages. Stories are at the heart of how our brains develop and how we learn. Storytelling has actually been proven to be interwoven into our DNA. Scientists have discovered that “if you slide a person into an FMRI machine that watches the brain while the brain watches a story, you’ll find something interesting--the brain doesn’t look like a spectator, it looks more like a participant in the action,” from Jonathan Gottschall.

In Jonathan Gottschall’s book, The Storytelling Animal, How Stories Make us Human, he says, “We are, as a species, addicted to story. Even when the body goes to sleep, the mind stays up all night telling itself stories.” He explains that most stories are almost always about people with some sort of problem and “that the human mind was shaped for story, so that it could be shaped by story.” Perfect for design thinking.

Stories are used to help you think of new possibilities. They give you tools to increase empathy and encourage self-reflection. Design thinking relies on both of these so you can imagine designs that improve the lives of others. Stories explore ideas from user research. Through the first part of the design process, story informs, drawing a picture of the present and how it exists for users. During the second part of the process, a new story is created that inspires, reframing the picture with new ideas that make things better.
From Design and Innovation Through Storytelling

Focusing on the story helps you think it through and sharing the story will help you clarify the details. Through story, you can paint a picture of the future where the people you are designing for interact with your idea. You have created a story they can participate in. Storytelling and design work together to enhance creativity and inspire innovation. As Plato once said, “Those who tell the stories rule society.”

Design Thinking is just one area where students and teachers can hone their storytelling skills. Like any skill, storytelling needs practice. Try some of these resources to improve the storytelling talents in your classroom.

Contributed by Kami Thordarson, Innovative Strategies Coach

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