Fact and fiction in the classroom

As the Blackadder debate rumbles on, child psychologist Karen Sullivan looks at how fiction can have a vital role to play in helping children to learn.

A short while ago, taking the matter of the fictionalisation of history beyond the Blackadder debate, literary editor of The Independent, Arifa Akbar, wrote a piece called The most memorable history lesson on war is found in fiction.

Speaking specifically about the Great War, she said: “What fiction inspired by the Great War has done – and continues to do – is to bring back the smells, sounds, and electrifying sensations of the front line; the filth and terror of the trenches; and, alongside that, just as validly, the duller terror at the home front. These fictions take you back there; they make you care.”

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