Using Narrative to Strengthen Memory

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Using Narrative to Strengthen Memory

How do you get your kids to remember important information in your class? How can you build on what you have already taught if your students don’t remember what you told them the week before?

Memory retention is an important aspect of teaching.

You have wisdom you want to impart, but the only way you will be effective as a teacher is if your students remember what you said.

Memories told in the form of a narrative can be retained more easily and strengthen your students training. Humans are narrative addicts. We love stories and our brains are designed to remember things in story form.

In a recent study, 24 people were asked to memorize 12 lists of 10 words. Half of them tried to memorize the lists and on average only managed to remember 13% of the lists. The other 12 people wove the lists of words into a story and were able to remember 93% of the lists.

Memories can be strengthened through stories.

When I was a student, I had a marvelously vivacious teacher who told wonderful stories of her time with the Royal Ballet. She would often weave these stories into her lessons or create funny visual illustrations to help us understand a concept better. Her stories stuck with me and today I continue to share these stories with my students. 

There has always been a strong oral tradition in ballet. Few of the great masters had time to write down their methodology. Instead they passed along their knowledge in the classroom. Their dedicated students took on the mantle and continued in their master’s footsteps teaching the next generation of dancers. For hundreds of years their teachings have been passed down and as a ballet teacher, it is our responsibility to continue this hallowed tradition.

In order to pass on knowledge orally, retention is key.

When you are planning your lessons try to pull in stories from your own career and training to inspire your students. Use visual analogies and sound effects when teaching choreography.

A good story can stick with a dancer and help them throughout the rest of their career. Who knows, maybe one day they will even share your stories with their students.