Can we use Myths, Legends and/or stories as sources when studying history?
The audience would be a 9th grade MWH class.
I would run this lesson early in the year as as introduction to sourcing non-traditional source material. Students would consider Myth and Legend as a possible historical source. Students will examine oral history, and the challenges that come with transcription, exaggeration and allegory.
Materials: TedED video, The science behind the myth: Homer’s “Odyssey”. Youtube video Densho Oral History, Kara Kondo. Map with markers at Mt. Etna, ‘Pluto’s Gate”, Crimea.
Class will start with a the watching of a brief video.
The first question students will be asked is, is this history? What separates a story from history? What are some questions we have to keep in mind with oral history?
The teacher will than tell a brief family story. Following this students will be asked to write a brief story from their own lives, or family. Students will than share this story with a partner, if they feel comfortable. Several students will have the opportunity to share. Questions following this will be, can we learn anything about the time from these stories? Are stories ever exaggerated? Do stories we tell always mirror reality?
The TedED video will be briefly introduced, with some background on Homer. The class will watch the video.
Questions following the video: Why do you think this story would have any importance to the Greeks? What are they trying to remember? Based off what you have seen, do you think Myth’s have any value to the historian?
Following this the class will break into groups, for each of the areas with a pin on the map there shall be several passages from Myth, taken from, Travelling Heroes : In the Epic Age of Homer, students will contrast these myths with our modern knowledge of the areas to make connections or an argument against these myths having basis in geographical reality.