Narrative engagement for complex ideas

“I do believe very strongly that stories are a way of connecting people to material”

Eileen O’Leary has been a lecturer in the College of Business teaching finance since 2006. She began her career teaching Year 10 mathematics but then moved into the corporate world for almost 20 years. During that time, she worked as a Senior Manager for large organisations such as National Australia Bank and Telstra.

This Ed Talk looks at the way Eileen draws on her long career, both as a school teacher and using real work, industry-relevant examples, to build relationships with students and encourage their learning.

She says that her students, studying the EMBA in particular, have a range of backgrounds. Recognising that her students come from all walks of life, are part of a new generation of students who are Life long Learners. Some may not have studied for 20 years and others may not have a degree in the traditional sense but are now quite senior in their organisations. This means she needs to alter the way she communicates her information. She says that some students can be nervous when it comes to a subject that uses mathematical principles and equations that they may not have seen for a long time.

“I do believe very strongly that stories are a way of connecting people to material,” she says.

“It’s no different to when I was teaching year 10 maths many, many years ago. Some people learn visually. Some people learn by listening. Some people learn by writing. Some people have to experience it really at a visceral level. And I have to enable that. But I find storytelling is one area that really gets most people in.”