The year was 40,000 BC and the artist(s) unknown. But here in the Aurignacian caves in Spain, the first evidence was recently found of human beings leaving their thoughts for others. Some 20,000 years elapsed when in the remote caves of Lascaux, France more drawings were recently discovered. These drawings were well executed, showing not only the ability to create color pigments, but also the placement on the rocks depicting an understanding of perspective that was very sophisticated. The ability to critically analyze and problem solve is indeed evident in these unique drawings from humankind's early stages. Most importantly, their need not only to express themselves¸ but to communicate to others their thoughts in a more lasting way was a significant find.
The capacity to imagine is a key aspect of creativity and, in this paper, it is argued that it is this capacity which needs to be harnessed in history education for young people. Although the creation of fiction and the use of imagination has tended to be regarded as a literary method, in this paper it is argued that it has an important role to play in helping young people discover history – something which might normally be seen as a purely scientific process. An interdisciplinary approach is needed. Researchers who study pedagogy confirm that in contemporary education, how teachers are interested in their subject and how they use their imagination is becoming increasingly important (Zeldin 1995). The problem is not particularly ontological (what to present in a history class) – instead, it is epistemological (how to present it). The choice of material stems partly from the topic but even more from the approach to the topic. It also depends on the target audience (e.g. children of various ages and carrying out various roles), the values of the society and ideological choices (what we are trying to tell the students about a topic).
Milvi Martina Piir is an Estonian writer and historian. She has an MA degree in history from the University of Tartu and she is currently pursuing her PhD in Educational Sciences at Tallinn University. She is an author of innovative history textbooks, workbooks and teachers' books for schools of general education and works as the senior specialist in history at the National Examinations and Qualifications Centre. She also works as a lecturer in the history of pedagogy at the University of Tallinn and is a member of the Baltic Association of Historians of Pedagogy. For her PhD dissertation, she studies the impact of the nationalist-traditionalist history teaching in the period of Estonia's regaining of independence on the practical understanding of history among the younger generation.
As a writer, Milvi Martina Piir is an author of several novels and the winner of the national novel competition in 2008.