It’s been almost a month since the Historical Association Conference, and I am still feeling as high as a kite. I arrived in Chester on the Friday afternoon and after a walk round the Cathedral my daughter and I headed to the conference to have a nosy. I could not believe how many people were already there – what a buzz. When I arrived on the Saturday morning, I was raring to go. The keynote speaker, Dr Fern Riddell, set the tone for the day by showing how we can get it wrong about people in the past, and more importantly, how the past can inform our understanding of politics today. Dr Riddell made it clear how important History is for our young people (as if anyone in the room needed to be convinced of that one!)
I am pleased to say that the promise I made in my first blog that the conference would provide take-homes that could be applied on Monday morning held true. My Year 10 class loved the Summary Pyramids from the Carmel Bones and Anne Jackson’s session. The whole concept was to get the students to group the content but summarise the key points/terminology. Their example suited the Historic Environment element of Paper 2 but I was also able to adapt it to workers movements for Power and People. It is truly one of the best revisiting and consolidation tasks I have seen. Their ten strategies for ‘daring to deviate’ were just the ticket for my tired Year 11 and 10 classes who wanted a fresher way to revise – they had memes and how to teach using analogies. Furthermore, I got major brownie points at my next department meeting when I shared the strategies– they helped perk up a lot of revision sessions!
Enriching the History we teach
The other sessions I attended really shone a light on my practice and how much planning I do to enrich the History I teach. This is something that Aaron Wilkes urges us to consider in light of the new Ofsted framework. One question from his blog article really sticks out to me: How does our KS3 curriculum contribute to the broader aims of the school in providing students with the cultural capital they need to succeed in life?
Helen Snelson and Katharine Burn’s session on Women and War showed how we can shine a light on people and events that enrich the History we teach. Focusing on the individual females and sharing amazing stories such as Eleanor, Duchess of Aquitane and Countess of Poitou who led an army on a Crusade, and women in the 20th century who work in war reporting such as Marie Colvin, brings History to life and takes us away from the white-male narrative – it’s about time!
Cultural capital was a key theme in my final session – Black Tudors and historiography, with Miranda Kaufmann actually in the session. I have taught Elizabethan England since I started teaching in England and I have to say how embarrassed I was that I had never considered this aspect of Tudor England before. The Tudor voyages of discovery have so much more to offer than just Drake and fire ships – the black deep sea divers trying to salvage anything and everything from the Mary Rose is a captivating story. I made sure that on my return to school I told my head of department that, not only did we need to incorporate this into our scheme of learning, but that we had a duty to research and give place to more diverse history across the whole of our curriculum. This was a real boost for our planning and gave us some foundations in response to the questions posed in Aaron’s blog.
I must admit: the sessions were wonderful but, really, for me the real ‘take-home’ was the time talking to colleagues about the sessions and how they would apply to our day-to-day practice. The HA conference really is the best subject CPD. I particularly enjoyed listening to the excellent ideas colleagues had for the new editions of the Aaron Wilkes’ KS3 History series. It was thrilling to hear how people have used them and where they could rely on them to help implement ideas from the conference. There is certainly a shift in education and with curriculum at the heart of Ofsted’s framework, one thing is for sure: History teachers have got it covered!
I know this blog is preaching to the choir but there is one thing we all must agree on: the OUP cake was delicious!