The History Teachers’ Association (Malta) organised its annual Michael A. Sant Memorial Lecture on 22nd September 2020. This lecture has been held uninterruptedly for the past eighteen years but due to the current international circumstances this year it had to be held remotely. The guest speaker for the webinar was Helen Snelson, from the University of York. Helen Snelson is also a EUROCLIO ambassador and chair of the UK Historical Association’s Secondary Teachers’ Committee. Snelson joins a string of international history educators who have presented at this memorial lecture.
The presentation was entitled, The personal and the particular: Stories to add intrigue, interruption and intensity to the History that students learn. The key argument was that well-chosen stories of individuals at specific moments in time help enrich learning in the history classroom. Highlighting the power of stories in helping students to understand and remember more, Snelson argued that stories can be a motivating factor in learning.
Using intriguing examples of life stories, Snelson showed how personal and particular stories can add complexity to historical narratives, ensuring that students learn that there are multiple perspectives on the past. Snelson added that stories help students understand how the past was experienced by different people in different ways. The presenter also discussed the centrality of stories in supporting students to connect topics.
This was an insightful presentation which contributed to the professional development of Maltese history teachers and educators. As a first, this webinar was well attended and the participants’ questions and comments showed that the array of examples brought up by Snelson to illustrate key ideas sparked off pedagogical ideas that can be developed and implemented in the classrooms.