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The Role of Story-telling in the Physics Classroom

Establish community

Who belongs

Exclusion Stories

  • Strapless gown
  • Look to your right + left. “n” of you will not be here in (time period).
  • Falling asleep.

Inclusion stories

  • I am just like you.
  • Minnesota “you”

Using humor

Coping with fear

  • Delta-squared of infinity

Establishing Professional Identity

What will I “do” as a physicist?

Heroes + myths

Teaching Problem-solving

Providing analogies/metaphors

Naming the epistemological game

  • Redish arrow on the boat

Establishing/changing the Frame

What will I be expected to do in the classroom?

  • Playing star Trek
  • Student quote

Enduring stories/Recurring Scenarios

Tapping kinesthetic resources

  • People as part of the idealization process
  • More vivid
  • Combine with humor—what do the cognitive people say

Modelling idealization

  • Bring KC in from infinity
  • Vincent is obstreperous


30 yrs later

  • Black hole swiss cheese earth—conservation of energy, duality.
  • Pendulum bowling ball
  • Bed of nails

Surprise + humor

  • Role of laughter and surprise in memory building.
  • What do the neuron/cognitive people say?
  • Using humor to get at the last piece for the lightbulb to go on—Monica seeing current as a flux after the Vincent is obstreperous story.

Other stuff:

  • Pedagogical Content Knowledge—How do you know what to do in the classroom

Lee Schulman

  • Where the class currently is is taking us back somewhere we’ve been before—refer to it explicitly and with humor and kinesthetic references if possible.
  • Emily’s word “moves”
  • Discrepent Events (Piaget) Equilibrium/Disequilibrium—Temperature of different materials.
  • “Fostering the teachable moment”
  • “Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery & Invention” Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi $10.25

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