Storytelling in University Education: Emotion, Teachable Moments, and the Value of Life


  • Howard Woodhouse University of Saskatchewan



Teaching as a process of storytelling allows faculty to reach out to students' emotions, breathing life into the ideas that are being taught and learned. Storytelling among indigenous peoples emphasizes the importance of balanced relationships with the land, with all living creatures, and with the cosmos. It serves different functions in other societies that can also enhance teaching and learning. Alfred North Whitehead's account of emotions is relevant to the learning process and to teachable moments better understood as learning opportunities that enhance the value of students' lives. I provide an example of such a learning opportunity in which one of my students experienced an energetic connection with her colleagues as a living community. Teachable moments and storytelling can strengthen students' range of comprehension, their imaginative and aesthetic appreciation, as well as their growing capacity to learn. True stories - those based on a process which more coherently and inclusively takes into account life coordinates - enable students and faculty to critique the money sequence of value of the global market. A pedagogy based on true storytelling opens up spaces for the expression of different groups whose voices have been marginalized.