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

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Atlantic

The Atlantic9 min readPolitics
An Attempt to Resegregate Little Rock, of All Places
A battle over local control in a city that was the face of integration shows the extent of the new segregation problem in the U.S.
The Atlantic5 min read
The Brave New World of HBO’s Watchmen
Damon Lindelof’s new show advances the clock on Alan Moore’s original series but retains the comic’s skepticism of heroes in masks.
The Atlantic5 min readScience
The Worst Day in Earth’s History Contains an Ominous Warning
One of the planet’s most dramatic extinctions was caused in part by ocean acidification, which has become a problem in our own era.