Stories play a huge role in learning. Our brains suck them up. We should use stories in physics lessons.
In my previous blogs, I wrote about how an understanding of physics grows out of solving problems (here and here). But before you can enjoy problem-solving in physics, you have to know stuff. Quite a lot of stuff.
Most don’t make it that far.
Stories scaffolding learning…
The knowledge learners need to solve problems is abstract and strange. Without a mental structure to attach these ideas to, many learners struggle and they won’t be able to solve problems.
What they need is a scaffold to build their schemas around: something they can learn quickly and easily. Something like a story.
Biographies offer a story structure. Scientists overcome challenges in their work and their lives. There are complications and characters. And at the heart of these physics stories is causality – the observation that leads to discovery.
I don’t think stories make good physicists, but I think they help students start.