It’s Story Time

It’s Story Time

A Learners’ View (ALV) Is Of Choices On The Shortest And Fastest Path To Learning, The Oxygen Of Social Life.

If learning is to be, Teachers use ALV (a Learners’ View). (ALV T-Shirt Wisdom)

Main Article: General Articles

Theme: ALV as backstory of learning.


“MY FATHER TOLD ME TO TELL A STORY when I want someone to remember what I said,” a recently retired teacher told me after reviewing the website Classic Education: A Learners’ View (ALV) of Choices during Teaching and Learning. “Make a learners’ view into an engrossing story.” Woo me with a tale, another person suggested. Write ALV as science fiction that appeals to adolescent electronic screen addicts into their middle 20s, another person offered. When they pay attention, so will others. These are good suggestion I will likely follow, but first I will fill out more of the backstory, the infrastructure of learning, ALV.

A difference between a story and a backstory is that the story describes something the backstory discusses or sets up. It’s the difference between comments about and descriptions of something. ALV features descriptions of choices people make while learning.

ALV as Backstory

From the view of a story, ALV serves as a backstory, the events and things writers, speakers, documentarians, and others use to formulate their stories. They use the things of science, such as descriptions of learning in ALV to populate stories. These things include artifacts, processes, examples, anecdotes, etc.

History novelist James Michener argues that narration (story telling) consists of  two types of writing he designates as carry and scene. Carry segments convey the backstory, the background, the hopes, dreams, and motivations, what the characters have already done, etc. It usually does not include dialogue. Scene consists of the personal contact among characters, including dialogue, as seen in theater productions, and in movies.

For teachers, ALV fits Michener’s carry type. ALV consists of descriptions of the elements (active ingredients of learning) from which a teacher may choose to instruct a lesson, a carry segment.

Scientists acting as scientists, describe their studies as well as results and implications of the results of their studies. They do so in ways that other scientists may use to test the validity of those descriptions and technologists may apply to assemble something else.

ALV features reports by scientists of descriptions of parts of learning teachers may observe and manage to accelerate, increase, and deepen (AID) learning through instruction of lessons. These descriptions can serve as the “things” used to tell a story.

Narratives, Persuasion, and Influence

The suggestions for telling the ALV story fit narratives which exist in two forms relevant to ALV. One is the writings of scientists for non-scientists. Stephen Hawking, the cosmologist, serves as an exemplar of this type of writer. He converts pages of complex mathematical formulas into words as an introduction and overview of his scientific examination of the universe.

A second type of narrative consists of efforts to persuade and influence, as in the use of stories during teaching, marketing, and sales. More specifically, people tell stories to capture attention, the first step in a learners’ view of learning. Others tell stories to entertain, as time fillers, and distractions from the minutia during their exercise. They may call them memory-aides and illustrations. Roger Highfield’s book The Science of Harry Potter both entertains and captures attention to the science in a story of fantasy sprinkled with cloaked (or is that hidden?) science fiction.

Yet, information sharing with a non-scientific audience, persuasion and entertainment are outside the realm and are arguably antonyms for the scientific method which includes accurate and precise reporting of its results and technical processes. Science gives priority to accurate and precise descriptions of observable and verifiable patterns in life. Technology applies those descriptions.

Science fiction and other stories pinch, pull, extrapolate, and rearrange facts in imaginative ways. These stories give a nobility and glory attractive to those who encounter them.


Simulators play a recognized role in education. They prepare textbooks, record documentaries, sing folk songs, recount the days adventures over cups of coffee in teachers lounges and professional development sessions, give speeches, and write articles as ways to distribute mostly among non-scientific and non-technical audiences, what scientists do and report. Simulators in their own ways tell stories with conversational rather than scientific vocabulary. Ironically, they use less accurate word choices to tell stories about something more than descriptions of the accurate and precise social activities of science.

Several decades ago, a publisher released a magazine purporting to make science readable by the general public. It contained articles by scientists, including some I knew as professors and colleagues. I asked one of them why he changed his writing style so dramatically that no one unfamiliar with his scientific writing could replicate what the article said.

That’s because a ghost writer, a science journalist, wrote about the topic from the scientists scientific publications. The publisher added the scientist’s name (without recognizing the ghost writer in the publication) to the article and paid the scientist a handsome fee for using his work.

The publication enjoys a commercial reputation these decades later for continuing to make science accessible to general readers.

In the same vein while trying to identify patterns between non-fiction and fiction writing, I asked a journalist with a national publication what constitutes news that they report. Why do they report something that may not be the same as someone else reports about the same event. His answer startled me at first, because it was inconsistent with my priority to  science and technology. He said, we (journalists) decide what is a news story and how to report it. Even news stories that address science and technology are written as viewed and shaped by these choices.

Stories are inconsistent with the purpose for ALV which is to describe scientific facts of learning in ways that educators may apply them to AID learning promptly and sometimes dramatically as have over a million other professionals in and out of schools.

At the same time, I will continue to edit entries to make ALV more accessible to those who prefer stories over arcane, or as Highfield might say “Bludgeoned” descriptions of learning from sources that others can review and test the validity of those descriptions.


  1. A Learners’ View (ALV) of Learning
  2. Highfield, R. (2002). The Science of Harry Potter: How Magic Really Works. NY: Viking.
  3. Hawking, S. (1988). A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes. NY: Bantam Dell Publishing Group.
  4. Michener, J. (1992). Intellectual equipment. The World Is My Home: A Memoir. NY: Random House, pp.. 296-324.
  5. Other publications mentioned will remain anonymous, but you know their names and some students cite them in term papers.

Related Reading

  1. ALV as Infrastructure of Learning
  2. Description
  3. Persuasion
  4. Science
  5. Science Fiction
  6. Story
  7. Technology

 Related Resources

  1. Bradbury, R. Speaking on Writing YouTube Video
  2. Hewitt, D. (2001). Tell Me a Story: Fifty Years and 60 Minutes in Television. NY: Public Affairs.
  3. Schmuhl, R. (Ed.). (2010). Making Words Dance: Reflections on Red Smith, Journalism, and Writing. Kansas City, MO: Andrews McMeel Publishing.

Last Edited: January 12, 2016