Cultivating curiosity about complexity

Teaching History article

By Laura Bellinger, published 5th December 2008

What happens when Year 12 start to read Orlando Figes' The Whisperers?

Please note: this article pre-dates the 2014 National Curriculum and some content may be outdated.

A great deal has been written recently about the importance of encouraging and enabling all students to read beyond their comfort zones, beyond the textbook and certainly beyond the obvious requirements of an examination specification. Inspired by reading Orlando Figes' The Whisperers, Laura Bellinger chose to base her PGCE dissertation on a systematic, qualitative study of her Year 12 students' responses to aspects of Figes' work. Bellinger is particularly interested in the role of The Whisperers in enabling students to encounter the diversity of human experience in Soviet society. She wanted to give students a new lens through which to analyse Stalin's purges and to challenge some common generalisations about the phenomenon. One student was so enthralled that she decided to buy and read the whole book. If you have not yet read The Whisperers, this article could persuade you to do likewise...

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