Storytelling - how can we imagine the past?

Primary History article

By Grant Bage, published 21st March 2011

Please note: this article pre-dates the 2014 National Curriculum and some content may be outdated.

Simon Schama's plea to "reinvent the art and science of storytelling in the classroom" made the media headlines and echoed centuries of educational history (Bage 1999). "It is, after all, the glory of our historical tradition - a legacy from antiquity - that storytelling is not the alternative to debate but its necessary condition." (Schama, Guardian, 9 November, 2010).

The practical challenge persists of doing history through story, with real children and renewed confidence. Since 1997 pedagogic independence has been diminished by a compliance culture built on targets, league tables, national strategies policed by a bureaucratic inspectorate. It is enormously tempting to view ‘storytelling' as a heroic pedagogy to sustain us - particularly if we can restore teacher professional autonomy in a new era...

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