Saturday, February 21, 2004

Oral History in the Teaching of U.S. History.

Oral History in the Teaching of U.S. History. I have always believed in the importance of oral history. It is a great tool for teaching students about history.

From the site:

Oral history is a stimulating classroom activity and an exciting process designed to increase student involvement in a United States history class and improve student understanding of the historical topic. Further, oral history involves students directly in a method of historical inquiry, which includes the organization and presentation of data acquired directly from another person.


An oral history project, regardless of the historical topic being investigated or its duration, helps students understand all phases of designing, implementing, and completing an activity. Students of all learning and comprehension levels can use the oral history process to increase their active involvement in the study of United States history.

An oral history project is an attempt to preserve a small segment of a relatively recent historical period as viewed through the eyes, experiences, and memories of people who lived during that time. Capturing their experiences and memories on either video or audio tape is invaluable. Over a period of time, memories can fade and those feelings or emotions associated with the events can easily be lost or altered by time.

An oral history project involving local participants is an exciting method of providing students the opportunity to "experience" history firsthand, which makes the learning of United States history a more valuable experience and places local history within the overall context of United States history. Participants are eager to share their experiences with students. Students are enthralled to hear the stories of the participants and usually cannot wait to share them with the rest of the class.

Oral history projects add to the collective knowledge of local and national history, because such projects document citizens' participation and memories concerning a specific event or time period. Students begin to understand that United States history is not simply a series of isolated events from the pages of a textbook, but rather it is composed of life experiences and memories of many Americans just like themselves. Students learn that history is in essence the collective memories of actual events that have directly affected the lives of their friends, acquaintances, and relatives.

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