The Atlantic

When Narrative Matters More Than Fact

A teacher argues that helping students analyze the stories they care so much about is more effective than pushing pure fact-checking.
Source: Juan Medina / Reuters

When I was in high school, one of my history teachers was also the football coach. “Coach Mac,” we called him. For a right-brained creative like me, history was often a toss up. There were certain parts of the curriculum that I loved, but I loathed (and was generally inept at) memorizing dates and obscure facts. But Coach Mac taught us history through football plays and storytelling. Through a series of Xs, Os, and arrows detailing their paths, Coach Mac told stories of Roman invasions, the Crusades, Genghis Khan, and the rise of Stalin. I sat in the front row, took copious notes, and was a star student every day in that class.

Because of Coach Mac, I became a history minor in college. And yet, if you asked me dates and details of these events Coach Mac and my college professors taught me, I could not tell you any of them without the aid of Google. The truth is, history stole my heart

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