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In selecting the documents, the authors sought a balance of perspective without sacrificing accuracy and relevance.

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This means a conscious effort to present a variety of views: African and European, internal and external, partipant and observer, those of the victims as well as those of the victors, those of the "people" as well as those of the elite. Within the limitations of space, they have made the excerpts sufficiently long to allow the reader to examine the author's style, purpose and other characteristics. Keeping in mind the limitations of libraries, they have attemted to make each chapter self-contained.

David Robinson , Douglas K. Sources of the African Past. David Robinson. Sources of the African Past combines a case-study approach with an emphasis on primary and orally transmitted sources to accomplish three objectives; to tell a story in some depth, to portray major themes and to raise basic questions of analysis and interpretation.

A good way to do this is through drama, role-play and verbal responses. Drama is something that needs careful thought and preparation. It is not relevant or useful on all occasions; and it needs a great deal of concentration and effort for it to succeed. It also has limited use; dealing only with those areas where you can afford the time that drama takes. Having said that, drama is also a valuable means of developing historical understanding in learners and complements the process of history as enquiry.

Drama can help to concentrate understanding on specific moments in the past, allowing learners to 'climb inside them' in the process of understanding. It can also help learners to understand that some questions raised in the study of the past might have a range of possible answers.

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Drama needs to be linked closely to the historical situation and to real evidence about the past. Often an historical resource such as a story, document, picture or artefact provides a good starting focus for a piece of drama. This will occur when the learners already have some knowledge of the topic. Drama can also be a process of building a story, being used as an entry into a topic that will be developed during further lessons. The teacher might also take a role in the drama, taking on the role of one of the characters. This need not necessarily be the leader.

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It could also, for example, be that of someone who needs to solve a problem and the learners are asked to offer ideas and solutions that they will all consider. The central point in this is that whatever the form the drama takes, it needs to be based on real people and situations from the past. An important historical learning and understanding gained from drama is the ability to empathize — to really feel what others felt.

The kinds of empathy resulting from drama include a straight personal empathy in which a learner begins to feel a little of what a character or group under study felt, and empathy for a situation in which the learners begin to understand the constraints within which people or groups in the past operated. Simulation or role-play is closely linked to drama. Again, the aim of role-play is to try to help children to understand why people acted as they did in the past and needs to be based on real evidence about real people in the past.

This can only be done successfully once the class has spent some time working with the evidence.

People as historical sources

The simulation can be as simple as giving learners a role, describing the situation, and asking them to come up with a solution or solutions. Simulations can also come in other forms such as board games or staging class debates on historical issues. Facts that are available as proof of events is called evidence. Historians need evidence in order to build up an accurate picture of the past, but because all the relevant evidence may not be available they can only establish part of the actual events.

South African History Online is a non profit organisation. We depend on public support to build our website into the most comprehensive educational resource and encyclopaedia on African history. Your support will help us to build and maintain partnerships with educational institutions in order to strengthen teaching, research and free access to our content. Skip to main content. South African History Online. A Land Dispossession History ss. This day in History South African history timeline Pre s s s s s s.

History Classroom Oral history guidelines Classroom activities: Learning about history. Classroom: Educational sites for learners and educators Online directory - archives and media sources. People as historical sources. A good local example of this is the 'praise poem' from indigenous African culture, which predates European contact, and tells us about leaders and events in the time before and during the history writing of white settlers in South Africa.

The value of doing oral history — 'history from below' "Your memories live longer than your dreams. Apart from being interesting, oral histories accomplish the following: They shed new light on well-known events and provide different perspectives and a more fascinating, richly layered history that captures the human spirit and memory of an event. They provide an inclusive platform for the writing of history by providing opportunities for the elderly, the disabled and minorities to be heard.

Sources and Methods in African History

They connect us with the history of ourselves, our families, our community and the young with the old, the local with the national and the national with the international. We all have stories to tell as learners, teachers, parents and members of the community. Oral history in school Oral history methodology can be introduced to Foundation Phase learners as they are expected to know their own lives and how their families have developed and changed over time.

Languages spoken that might have died out or are still being used today and therefore encourage them to use the language of the person being interviewed if they can speak the language. In this way, we help to prevent languages from dying out. How accurate are oral histories?

We need to view oral histories in the same way as any other kind of historical source and consider the following: We need to assess and ensure the accuracy of the data gathered.

We have to face the question: how accurate is this oral history? At the very least, we must be aware of the limitations of oral history in order not to mislead ourselves into believing that oral history automatically gives us accurate accounts of past events. However, this is not unique to oral history sources. Oral sources should be used in conjunction with other historical sources.

A single interview is often not, as it raises further questions that need to be answered. Because oral history depends on living people as sources, we have limits; we can go back only one lifetime. People tend to forget; their memories are not always reliable. People may dramatize or exaggerate an event because or their own interests or agendas in the present.

The interview may provoke certain answers at the expense of others. The interviewee may try to impress the interviewer by giving "desirable" answers. The interviewee may fear talking about a sensitive topic. When the story is eventually written down, there is no guarantee that it will be a true reflection of what the interviewee had to say.


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The written version will not reflect the emotions or body language displayed in the interview that, along with the words, enriches the interview. Also, the written version may not reflect the way in which the person uses language: people often mumble, do not talk in sentences, and do not use punctuation. They do not necessarily relate something chronologically and they can leave things out.

Questions to think about before you do an oral history interview adapted from Moher, J. Were the people I interviewed the right ones for my research? How did I prepare for the interview? Did I prepare enough? What did I use for equipment? Did it work satisfactorily? What changes should I make? What kinds of questions did I ask? Where did I conduct the interview? What in the environment affected my interview?

Sources of the African Past - David Robinson - Google Книги

Did my subject want to talk? How did I encourage my subject to talk? What "masks" did my subject wear? Did my subject drop the masks? When did I tell my subject the purpose of the interview and how it would be used? Did my plans to use the interview seem to matter to the subject? How accurate were my subject's memories? How do I know?