Notes on the Story Telling Method of Teaching History

By nature children are fond of stories. Children have genuine interest in listening to stories. History was originally presented in stories and it is felt that students, particularly at the early school stage, should be taught history through a series of stories. Stories can give them immense pleasure, extend their imagination and develop their creative powers. There are mainly three types of stories: (1) True stories, (2) Myths and (3) Legends.

(1) True Stories

Stories based on real facts and figures are included in this category. Such stories are interesting presentation of the actual events and activities of the great personalities. These stories are the sources of history and contribute greatly to the teaching of history.

(2) Myths

These are purely imaginary stories and have no historical basis. These are usually fairy tales and deal with supernatural elements. Since these stories have no truth, these cannot be used for teaching history.

(3) Legends

These are in between true stories and myths. These stories have certain elements of truth. The incidents narrated in the myths are not true nor are the details accurate. Since these stories are generally interesting, these can be used for teaching history in a lively manner.

Thus the stories are the rich sources of history and are interesting. History is taught to the children through the stories with much satisfactory result. However, truth cannot be sacrificed for the sake of teaching history interestingly. Hence the true stories or the stories having elements of truth can be utilized for teaching history. It is, therefore, imperative to select suitable stories for the purpose.

Story-telling is an art and this method is a skillful teaching process. Success in this method mostly depends on the competence of the teacher. Both selection of suitable stories and their presentation in the classrooms are important. The former depends on the teacher's knowledge as well as understanding and the latter depends on his skill in story-telling as well as dramatization.

Advantages

(1) Story-telling method creates immense interest in the class room.

(2) It develops the power of imagination.

(3) It promotes the growth of pupils' creative talents through story-writing, designing, drawing pictures, making models etc.

(4) It inculcates virtues in the young students.

(5) It helps in understanding and remembering historical facts easily.

Limitations

(1) It usually encourages exaggerations of facts which create misconception and wrong ideas in the pupils.

(2) It sometimes minimizes the importance of personalities and shows even the historical characters as mythical and frivolous.

(3) The story-telling method is not found suitable for teaching history to the students of higher classes.

Teachers

As already been discussed, success of this method largely depends upon the teacher. He must be a good story teller and imaginative, as well as resourceful actor. He must be a knowledgeable person with deep historical background, as well as a keen sense of honor and sympathy. Ghate has aptly remarked, "Story telling is an art and probably a real story-teller like a poet, is born, though unlike a poet, he can also be made by effort. The history teacher in charge of little children should try, by all possible efforts, to become a good story-teller.

Describing the requirements of a good story-teller, Ghate has rightly suggested that first, he should enjoy telling stories and the children must feel that he enjoys telling them stories. You can not enjoy doing a thing unless you get rid of self- consciousness. If you love children, you must try to be on with them, learn to laugh with them and enjoy a joke with them. Secondly, the history teacher must possess wide and deep sympathies for the persons about whom he is talking. Now in order to be able to sympathies with persons, who lived in the past, you must be able to understand their way of life, their feelings etc.

The history-teacher should have knowledge of the past accurate and wide. He cannot love or enter into the feelings of a person unless he knows and understands him. He must also be a good actor and able to modulate his voice, create humor at times and introduce lively description through actions and gestures. It is thus hard to get a real story teller and a scholarly teacher in the same persons.