From Storytelling To Scenario Writing: A Mindful Approach...
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From Storytelling To Scenario-Based Learning

"Analogy, it is true, decides nothing, but they can make one feel more at home."

- Sigmund Freud (The father of human psychology)

Like Sanskrit, many languages and subjects are taught along stories. We can enlighten our morals, enrich our vocabulary, and even alleviate our grammatical confusions—through strategic storytelling. Ever wondered why? Because stories help us to build an analogy to help us relate and learn. Stories are capable of creating a comfortable yet conducive environment that helps in absorption, and assimilation of knowledge. We can relate more to stories, even if that’s not our own. They help us to communicate with the pre-existing schemas in our memory, so that we not only receive information but also remember and when required, recall that.

The stories might not always guarantee an authentic background, or a regional, cultural, historical, or mythological support. Neither would they float unleashed. They are deliberately buckled to a foundation—of belief, fact, truth, and mostly, experience.

The plot that we select to build our stories on, could be hypothetical, analogous to real, or a real one. The characters or examples that we cite could exist in reality or in the plane of our imagination. But at the end, it’s not only the story that matters, it is the extent to which your audience could associate to the story you narrated. If they appraise the analogy that you tried to create, you have met your purpose for storytelling.

You should be able to justify your selection of plot, characters, or examples for the sake of its objective in the first place. It’s the sheer purpose that should guide your decision for selecting a particular plot, characters, examples, and nothing else.

Every period and era has seen some "great" storytellers, in the form of teachers, authors, animators, philosophers, even scientists, and astrophysicists. The stories have been as vivid as their experiences. We might never be able to elicit if the stories they told were real or surreal, however, assuming them as realistic certainly gave those storytellers more points, for obvious reasons.

There’s a common belief that life-like or real-life experiences enhance the degree of learning. So, for the sake of narrating a real-life story, what would you prefer:

  • Letting your audience create an analogy and help themselves to relate and learn, or
  • Imposing the scenario on them to configure themselves as per your story?

Perhaps you would be able to select your preference at the end of this discussion.

A Paradigm Shift In Storytelling: Scenario-Based Learning

Nowadays, storytelling is known to be one of the dearest techniques to deliver knowledge in institutions. It is said that even the vastness or complexity of a subject can be mellowed down through stories and apt examples. Growth, development, and inventions have created an earnestness for knowledge. Storytelling is somehow considered as a fool-proof strategy for training people to repair those knowledge gaps. Hence, we can discover that storytelling has gradually found its purpose in the corporate sector as well. With the popularity that the technique has gained over a past few decades, perhaps the term 'storytelling' was jargonized to suit the corporate style of learning and training requirements; so now we have replaced that with the names like 'scenario-based learning' or 'contextual learning technique'.

Scenario-based learning often proves to be effective in systems training, compliance related training, and topics involving policies, procedures, and decision making.

What Is A Scenario Expected To Do In A Course?

  • The scenario in a course introduces you to the plot, the characters, and most importantly, gives you the purpose of taking up the course—by triggering your motivation through a puzzle, a problem statement, or a near-life experience example.
  • The scenario should help you to create an analogy between the plot and the enabler objectives of the course; so that you can identify and comprehend what is expected of you after you have completed the course.
  • The scenario should promote your intuitive thoughts, and propel you perform the practice exercises sensibly.
  • The scenario should give you the comfort of imagination, yet keep you adhered to your purpose.

What A Scenario Is Not Expected To Do

  • The scenario should not be biased to a person, role, or organization. The audience should never attach themselves to the scenario characters. This would only aggravate the complexity instead of mellowing it down.
  • There should be no conflicts between your actual identity and the story characters. The scenario should not hamper any individual thoughts or beliefs.
  • The scenario should not confuse or misguide your audience between what is promised and what really exists.
  • Real-life scenarios should not contain or cite the actual names of people, or organizations.

To conclude; scenario learning is definitely a good practice. However, limiting the usage of instances where a potent conflict or confusion is expected, can be a better decision. Let our scenarios attenuate the cognitive load—because there's a still a long way to go, many many things to learn...

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