Narrative in history

History teachers, academics and policy makers have often expressed concerns about the value accorded to narrative in school history, suggesting that an over-emphasis on certain concepts and processes – most obviously, causation and the critical evaluation of sources – has tended to obscure the importance of being able to put together a clear story. Constructing an effective narrative account, it has been argued, is not only an essential and demanding task in its own right and one that is fundamental to historians’ work; it is also the foundation on which other kinds of historical knowledge are built, and should therefore be more highly prized by teachers and within public examinations. Read more

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  • Teaching Year 9 to take on the challenge of structure in narrative

    Article

    Reflecting on challenges that had surfaced in their own and others’ efforts to get pupils to write historical narratives, Rachel Foster and Kath Goudie went back to the drawing board to consider the disciplinary purposes of narrative. They used both historical scholarship and theoretical works by historians on narrative construction....

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  • Cunning Plan 174: creating a narrative of the interwar years

    Article

    The major aim of this sequence of lessons was to teach Year 8 how to create and refine a narrative. I chose a period I was substantively confident on, which lent itself well to the narrative form, had a number of prominent academic narratives published about it and followed neatly...

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  • What kinds of feedback help students produce better historical narratives of the interwar years?

    Article

    Narrative has begun to take its place alongside the essay, for so long the stereotypical currency of the history teacher and student. In this work, based on his experiences as a PGCE student, Alex Rodker argues powerfully that it is time now to consider how to help students to produce...

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  • Absence and myopia in A-level coursework

    Article

    It is a charge commonly laid at history teachers that we, myopically, teach only the same-old same-old. Steven Driver has taken extreme steps to avoid this by focusing on a particular neglected event – the American occupation of Nicaragua in the early twentieth century – as part of his preparation...

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  • The devil is the detail

    Article

    Like many history departments, Hugh Richards' department at Huntington School uses enquiry questions to structure their medium-term planning. Yet Richards noticed that his efforts to build knowledge across an enquiry by teaching macro-narratives as an unfolding story seemed to make it harder for some pupils to see and retain the...

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  • Conducting the orchestra to allow our students to hear the symphony

    Article

    Alex Ford and Richard Kennett both welcome the renewed emphasis on knowledge within recent curriculum reforms in England, but are concerned about some of the ways in which the principle of a ‘knowledge-rich’ curriculum has been interpreted and transformed into particular pedagogical prescriptions. In this article they explain their reasons...

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  • ‘Through the looking glass’

    Article

    Danielle Donaldson began to notice the verbs that her pupils used to express their ideas. She noticed that more successful pupils were using carefully chosen verbs to express their conceptual thinking about causation or change, and wondered how this might relate to, and reflect, the breadth and security of their...

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  • Anything but brief: Year 8 students encounter the longue durée

    Article

    Inspired by The History Manifesto, Suzanne Powell describes in this article her rationale for expanding her students’ horizons by asking them to think about change, similarity and difference on a grand scale. She sets ‘big history’ into its curricular context, and shows the way in which her students could, and...

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  • Narrating “Histories of Spain”

    Article

    International Journal of Historical Learning, Teaching and Research [IJHLTR], Volume 15, Number 1 – Autumn/Winter 2017 ISSN: 14472-9474 Abstract This study analyses the role of Spanish teacher training students as narrators of what they consider to be the history of Spain. Results of this empirical study are based on a random...

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  • The Past, the Present and the Future of the Economic Crisis, through Greek Students’ Accounts of their History

    Article

    International Journal of Historical Learning, Teaching and Research [IJHLTR], Volume 15, Number 1 – Autumn/Winter 2017ISSN: 14472-9474 Abstract This is an analysis of 97 written questionnaires given to university students’, prospective teachers’. Students were asked first to narrate the Greek state’s history, second to make predictions about the future. It took...

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  • “They Ought to Know the Achievements of the Ancient Greeks”

    Article

    International Journal of Historical Learning, Teaching and Research [IJHLTR], Volume 15, Number 1 – Autumn/Winter 2017ISSN: 14472-9474 Abstract This paper focus on the role of archaeology and material culture in supporting national narratives for younger generations, examining the ideas and perceptions of prospective teachers of Greek Primary Education. Firstly, the contribution...

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  • The History of Afro-Brazilian People

    Article

    International Journal of Historical Learning, Teaching and Research [IJHLTR], Volume 15, Number 1 – Autumn/Winter 2017ISSN: 14472-9474 Abstract This work is part of the following research projects: ‘Indians, Quilombolas, and Napalm’ funded by the Ministry of Education (MEC/CAPES-Brazil), and ‘Teaching-learning methodology and evaluation in controversial social issues of humanities and its...

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  • An Investigation into Finding Effective Ways of Presenting a Written Source to Students

    Article

    International Journal of Historical Learning, Teaching and Research [IJHLTR], Volume 15, Number 1 – Autumn/Winter 2017ISSN: 14472-9474 Abstract Written historical sources can be quite challenging for students to analyse in secondary school. They are sometimes long and tedious to read as well as containing difficult and awkward text. The presentation of...

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  • History Teaching in Belarus: Between Europe and Russia

    Article

    International Journal of Historical Learning, Teaching and Research [IJHLTR], Volume 15, Number 1 – Autumn/Winter 2017 ISSN: 14472-9474 Abstract This paper is devoted to social uses of history teaching and history textbooks. It analyses, first, how the history of the lands of Belarus, at the crossroads between Europe and Eurasia, was...

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  • Why are you wearing a watch? Complicating narratives of economic and social progress

    Article

    Frustrated by the traditional narrative of the industrial revolution as a steady march of progress, and disappointed by her students’ dull and deterministic statements about historical change, Hannah Sibona decided to complicate the tidy narrative of continual improvement. Inspired by an article by E.P. Thompson, Sibona reflected that introducing her...

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  • ‘Like a really good book and you want to know more’: involving students in historical enquiries at Key Stage 3

    Article

    This workshop took place at the HA Annual Conference May 2017 in Manchester. Abdul Mohamud and Robin Whitburn, Justice to History This is a good time to reconsider Key Stage 3 schemes of work in the light of changes in GCSE and A-level examination courses. Students tell us that well-sequenced...

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  • Myth, mystery, history? building interpretation skills from Key Stage 3 to Key Stage 4

    Article

    This workshop took place at the HA Annual Conference May 2017 in Manchester. Megan Gooch and Amy Mann, Historic Royal Palaces How do you separate myths, legends, falsehoods and evidencebased history? The requirement at GCSE for students to understand the building of historical narratives makes attainment more challenging, unless interpretation...

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  • Putting Catlin in his place?

    Article

    Jess Landy’s desire to introduce her pupils to a more complex narrative of the American West led her to the life story and work of a remarkable individual, George Catlin.  In this article she shows how she used this unusual micro-narrative in order to challenge pupils’ ideas not just about the bigger narrative of which it is a part, but about the...

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  • New, Novice or Nervous? 164: Constructing narrative

    Article

    Narrative is shedding its status as the ‘underrated skill’, re-emerging as a requirement of the new GCSE in England. As Counsell has argued, constructing a narrative is ‘no easy option’, however, and asking students to ‘Write an account…’ lacks the comfortable familiarity of ‘Explain why…’ or ‘How far…’. Fortunately, many...

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  • Narrative analysis and new history curricula

    Article

    This workshop took place at the HA Annual Conference May 2016 in Harrogate. Zoë Howells, History consultant ‘Narrative’ is no longer such a dirty word, and has become a feature of many a classroom and increasingly, many a student’s exercise book. Intrigued by the inclusion of ‘narrative analysis’ in new...

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