Oral history, a powerful tool or a double edged sword?

Primary History article

By Hilary Claire, published 1st December 2004

We all agree that oral history is a particularly powerful and attractive method for children to gather evidence and appreciate the real life relevance of history. From the Early Years to Year 6, many of us look deliberately for the opportunities to bring a visitor into the classroom, who will bring toys, photos or old school books, and talk to our children about what it was like to be young decades before they were born. Planning a scheme about immigration or evacuation in Key Stage 2, seaside holidays or school days in Key Stage 1, we value the impact of first hand experience for our class, the power to get answers to the question that really interest us, not from textbooks, internet or deduction, but straight from the 'horse's mouth'. Oral history, we rightly believe, can make all the difference to a subject which sometimes does not seem to be about real people.

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