"The story is our best tool for understanding what it is like to be someone else": Historical thinking and ethnic identity in Kieran Egan's imaginative education framework

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University of New Brunswick


The thesis explores how doing history with first-grade students with emphasis on oral literacy may be approached using Kieran Egan's theory of cognition and learning. This research aims to bring together current research in children's historical thinking with Egan's vision of teaching history in an imaginative education framework. Case study methodology was used explore doing history orally using Egan's framework, and examine whether this is an effective approach to foster students' historical thinking. A class of Grade One students in New Brunswick participated in a three-week unit on Canada's Immigration Boom, including whole-class instruction, small-group activities, a take-home family history project and one-on-one interviews. Findings indicate that arts-based approaches such as drawing and role-play are an effective method for creating discussion and learning among orally literate students. Egan's approach for teaching history to young children appears to offer greater opportunities for examining multiple perspectives in the classroom, and may be a more effective approach to history teaching in the classroom than the current You and Your World K-2 curriculum.