The power of stories to create a desired future

Dennis Sparks

Human beings seem to be hardwired to tell, listen to, and learn from stories.

Stories help us understand our past, make sense of the present, and anticipate or even create the future. Our stories convey our history, explain our values, and can touch the heart in special ways.

Attempting to persuade people through logic and evidence that our view is right—particularly if that means they are wrong—often causes our audience to lean away and literally or metaphorically cross their arms.

“Let me tell you story” is a way to invite people to lean toward you and to open their minds.

Skillful leaders use stories to provide a sense of direction, explain how a desired future will be created, and to sustain the energy that continuous improvement requires.

Fortunately, schools and classrooms abound with stories that illustrate human resilience in the face of adversity, the effectiveness of new teaching strategies, the power of collaboration to solve seemingly intractable problems, and the progress the school community is making in achieving important goals.

Teacher leaders and administrators only need to pay attention to the sea of stories in which they swim, take note, and be mindful of opportunities to use stories to teach, guide, and inspire.

1 Response to “The power of stories to create a desired future”


  1. 1 Jay Stailey December 14, 2012 at 11:58 am

    Great thoughts on the power of story. As one who has had his feet in both the education community and the storytelling community for the past few decades, I agree that we sometimes overlook story as a teaching tool. Our past stories tell us much about who we are, and clearly shaping and voicing our future stories help us reach our goals. Thanks for your insights. jay


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