Like many history teachers over the last decade or so, my focus has shifted away from ‘Can we trust it?’ (sometimes it is obvious that we cannot) to ‘Why is this image the way it is?’ or ‘Why was it painted or written?’ or ‘What does it tell us about the period or values of the interpreter?’.
Jane Card “Seeing Double” Teaching History 117
I’m doing a session on ‘interpretations’ at OUDE tomorrow for the PGCE students. They’ve been reading Jane Card’s excellent article as an introduction. I’m struck by the very clear and exciting way she helps us understand this ‘jewel in the KS3 curriculum’ (according to Neil Thompson and Christine Counsell).
I remember during my own PGCE attending an evening session at which Christine Counsell took us through an activity which I’ll be using with the interns tomorrow. There are loads of references to it on the web – CV Wedgewood and the execution of Charles I. In what appears to be an unpromising analysis of ‘subordinate clauses’ there is in fact an activity that really engages pupils and helps them rise of the challenges of analysing conscious interpretations of the past, and even those of manipulating such interpretations one word, one phrase at at time. I was really challenged that evening, and this lesson has remained something that I have used many times. More than that though it remains a challenge to produce history that is true to the nature of history – a branch of human knowledge.
I do hope that wise counsel manages to persuade those in charge of the current curriculum review that ‘interpretations’ should remain in the curriculum (though if they don’t, then I’ll keep teaching them anyway!).
Here are the ppts I’ll be using tomorrow.
Part 1 – Introduction to Interpretations
Part 2 – Differences in Interpretations between Key Stages
Part 3 – Interpretations in the Wild