August 2009
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Teaching KS3 history thematically

For those of you considering ways of extending your thematic teaching of KS3 history, you  might like to consider a few approaches that will soon be added to www.keystagehistory.co.uk Power of the People provides an excellent example. Using a series of ‘ case studies’ taken from different periods in the past, pupils can begin to see change and continuity more clearly and can understand why you have made important selections in historical content. When telling the story of protest how do we make it relevant and memorable? How do we show the all-important links that span traditional periods. Pupils will be looking back to Magna Carta, forwards to the civil war, back to the peasants’ revolt, forwards to the Poll tax riots. By nimbly moving between the ‘stories’ which exemplify important themes, pupils will not only strengthen their chronological understanding and grasp of significance, they will also think of important ideas concerning change and continuity; progress and regress; and not least diversity of perspectives. Themes are now sexy. Only this week ( August 2009) Viking published David Horspool’s fascinating book The English Rebel: One thousand Years of trouble-making from the Normans to the Nineties. You might like to think for yourself who he might include. Will Hereward the Wake be there? The Chartists? Guy Fawkes? The Levellers, Jack Cade? What about Oliver Cromwell himself? As Horspool concludes:

The English rebel may only rarely be a triumphant or even a likeable character. But he and she are as much a part of the fabric of English(sic) history as the monarchs, lawmakers and political leaders they defied. They serve as inspiration, as warning and sometimes simply as example.’ I wonder how your pupils would describe the rebels they study. let me know what you think .

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