Human life is conducted through story, which comes naturally to us. Sharing stories is arguably the most important way we have of communicating with others about who we are and what we believe; about what we are doing and have done; about our hopes and fears; about what we value and what we don’t. We learn about and make sense of our lives by telling the stories that we live; and we learn about other lives by listening to the stories told by others. Sometimes, under the influence of the culture in which we are immersed, we live our lives in ways that try to create the stories we want to be able to tell about them.
Members of many professions, including medicine, nursing, teaching, the law, psychotherapy and counseling, spend a great deal of their time listening to and communicating through stories. Story is a powerful tool for teachers, because it is a good way of enabling students and other learners to integrate what they are learning with what they already know, and of placing what is learned in a context that makes it easy to recall. Story plays an important role in academic disciplines like philosophy, theology, anthropology, archaeology, history as well as literature Narrative methods for the collection of data are increasingly used in research in the social sciences and humanities, where the value of getting to know people in a more intimate and less distant way – almost as if we are getting to know them from the inside, begins to be viewed as having some value. Some academics have begun to realise the value of storytelling as a model for academic writing.