Article • 20th March 2024

World Story Telling Day 2024

We’re celebrating World Storytelling Day exploring how stories can help us to connect with others, embed learning and be a great mechanism to develop new skills.

We all love a good story. Stories allow us to explore unfamiliar worlds, find the commonalities between ourselves and others and encounter sometimes uncomfortable experiences in a safe place.

For children there are very tangible benefits of becoming engrossed in a good yarn beyond academic benchmarks. Recent research published by the Book Trust shows that reading can mitigate socioeconomic inequalities and support social mobility; children who read will even make healthier lifestyle choices and are more likely to thrive at work in the future.

‘A child growing up in poverty who is read to at age five has a significantly higher chance of economic success in their 30s than their peers who are not read to.’

Stories give us a richer insight into the world around us. We are able wear someone else’s shoes and hopefully gain a better appreciation of what motivates and drives us as human beings. We can achieve a greater understanding of other people and, critically, ourselves.

Telling stories is at the heart of the design of Active Training Team’s (ATT) immersive, safety leadership training programmes. In episode 11 of the ATT podcast, Senior Lecturer in Neuroscience at Brighton and Sussex Medical School, Dr Natasha Sigala, explains the science behind active learning and how engagement and participation impact on the physiological processes in our brains that form and retain memories. The more of our senses triggered by an experience, the more profoundly that information is rooted in our memory banks.

Often people arrive at one of our safety leadership training centres or for one of our mobile programmes with some reluctance and some pre-conceived ideas of what to expect. Busy diaries and heavy workloads can make recalcitrant participants of all of us! The majority will have attended numerous health and safety courses, have long experience in their profession and feel there is little more to learn.

We aim to confound those expectations and give people an experience they’ll never forget. If we watch a film or a piece of theatre, we share the characters’ triumphs and disasters; we laugh with them and cry with them. Often, we can feel moved or changed by the experience, have a different perspective or deeper insight into lives which, on the surface, may seem very different to our own.

This is the very ethos of ATT’s programmes. Through relatable narratives and characters who may well be familiar to us – or sometimes they are us – we hold up a mirror so we can all have a clearer perspective of our own behaviour and how that impacts on others. Similarly, we can reach a better appreciation of other’s actions and how best to respond.

The feedback we receive from participants on our programmes is almost universally positive. Improved vocabulary and literacy skills are one outcome for children who read, but looking through the lens of a narrative provides a much richer experience which supports the development of non-technical skills such as communication, problem-solving and teamwork. Happily, that goes for adults as well!

World Story Telling Day is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the power of stories and how they can be a wonderful mechanism for us all to learn and grow, whatever our age.