Who Are We Now? Oral Histories
Using comments, memory and extracts from the life story of an elderly lady to think about our own identity, and inspire the collection of further oral histories
KEY QUESTION: Does our age make a difference to who we are, and how we see the world?
Collecting oral histories is a great way to think about how people are different, how we live life differently, but there are many things that bring us together in communities. These extracts from one older lady show one opinion about how we live, and provid
e some interesting discussion points. Using this as a model to collect more oral histories from the surrounding community of the school will help a class think about different identities, and different generations.
1. Give out small extracts from the oral history (below) to learners in small groups, and ask them to discuss what has been said, whether they have a different view, and what they have learned about the person speaking through their words.
2. Support the class to plan their own collection of oral histories, by deciding who they will ask, what open questions they might use to help people speak, and how they will record what is said. A great way to do this to begin with would be to invite someone in to be asked questions who is known to be comfortable in that environment, for learners to practise asking and recording, before they go and ask people in their own families and communities.
3. Explore the key question above, by discussing the ideas that have arisen as a whole class. Do older people have a collective voice? Would other older people say similar things about themselves and the places that they live? How could we find out? Do young people have a collective voice? How could we find out?
4. These histories can then be used for various different things, but an important learning outcome can be the valuing of people’s experiences and opinions.