Maximising the power of storytelling in the history classroom

Teaching History article

By James Hopkins, published 11th January 2024

Are we underestimating the value of students’ imaginations?

James Hopkins’s Year 10 class had been excited by their course on medicine through time, but were less enthused about their new study of Norman England. They told him that the topic felt ‘distant’ and ‘not real’. Recalling his own experience as a student, Hopkins was interested in the ways in which the images of the past that pupils hold in their ‘mind’s eye’ could help them overcome this problem. Drawing upon the work of historians, educational researchers and other history teachers, as well as his own experience of conducting historical research, Hopkins argues that the rigorous use of historical imagination can be a powerful tool in the classroom. He outlines how the use of ‘immersive meditative storytelling’ helped his Year 10 class exercise their historical imaginations, and sets out the ways in which this exercise helped them to engage with a difficult topic, and to remember it...

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