Do you think this is true?
Seriously, “any great teacher,” “the most effective way,” “uniform answer”? Sounds fishy.
I guess that tells you something about me. If you want to stir me to debate or make me think, just start making unequivocal statements like that one.
What is the most effective way to help people learn?
Maybe it depends in part on culture, or personality, or "learning style."
The value of stories and storytelling as a teaching tool is great, I’ll grant you that. And, though I might never be a “great teacher or coach,” I, too, rely heavily on stories as an instructional method.
Yet I do not think storytelling alone will do the job, and I wouldn’t give it the #1 place in my bag of tricks to help people learn. I think there’s something better.
What do you think?
I'd say.... Experience. Call it situational learning, or created tension, or teachable moments. But many people learn the most through on-the-job training, not through novels or sermon illustration or hearing about something that happened in somebody else’s life. Internships, experimentation, and practical application assignments can do what lectures and stories cannot: only when a person applies the new skill or knowledge to a real-life situation does it really "stick."
So that’s why I say that storytelling isn’t #1, situational learning is. Look through the Gospels and see how well they jive with Barna's claim about Jesus and storytelling. The disciples weren't just sitting around on mountaintops listening to sermons and parables every day; instead, Jesus creates and redeems dozens of powerful teachable moments.
Perhaps the wise teacher doesn’t use just one technique but several. If you want to be systematic about it, you might find it helpful to analyze your teaching plans in light of Robert Gagne's “Nine Events of Instruction.”
1. Gaining learners’ attention (e.g., ask a question to pique interest).
2. Informing learners of the objective (where are we going with this? What will they get out of it? Create a level of expectation for learning).
3. Stimulating recall of prior learning (i.e., appeal to previous teaching or common life experiences so learners can related it to something they already know).
4. Presenting new information (explain and demonstrate the “content”).
5. Guiding learning (case studies, examples, analogies, mnemonics to help them grasp the content).
6. Eliciting performance (learners apply the knowledge or skill and practice it, show that they can put it to use).
7. Providing informative feedback (coaching, basically. Learners are immediately rewarded/corrected for their application of the knowledge or skill; they see that they “got it” and that it works).
8. Assessing performance (this time, learners are tested in some way without hints, feedback, or coaching).
9. Enhancing learning transfer and retention (learners “perform” or apply their new skill or knowledge and are encouraged to review the content and create or consult reference materials when needed).