Day One #SHP15 #SHP2015 Conference

One of the downsides of running a workshop at SHP, apart from the wrenching fear of exposure as a fraud by your peers,  is that you get to see less.  For two sessions you’re talking to others, instead of listening to some of the best “CPD known to man”.

Even though I didn’t get to see other great sessions like this one:

I did get to brilliant fringe session by the great people at and had the enormous pleasure of watching Ronan MacManus enhance the already brilliant ideas of Neil Bates:

The session was fascinating.  I met a fellow textbook author, Kate Moorse, and discussed writing with her.  In conversation with her and other people I was amazed to find how little curricular freedom many teachers (especially new teachers it seems) have in their classroom.  My own workshop is about planning direction rather than being forced to write complex detailed lesson plans for every lesson. It seems that in many schools professional freedom of movement is very limited, in terms of what is taught, and in terms of how it is taught.  This, and the way that schemes of work and textbooks are constructed means that women are still sidelined in history.  That isn’t news, but the subtle ways in which this sidelining takes effect were well brought out into the light by this session.  As a writer this session certainly made me think, and made me determined to write differently.

Then, a real treat.  I saw Neil Bate’s session last year, and really enjoyed the way that he used song to help grab students’ attention, and to make them think like historians.   This session took that thinking one stage on.  Neil and Ronan MacManus  showed us some really practical ways in which the process of song writing can be used to help students think about how the past gets recorded, and relayed.  Coming on the back of the recent reports about P4C having wider cognitive benefits, the similarities with Neil’s approach were made very clear.  A song can be a way in to a topic, but it can also be a way of generating questions, ideas, doubts and directions for enquiry.  The brilliant way in which this can lead to discussions about what gets included in songs, and what gets left out, could easily lead to discussions and activities about how the historical record (geddit?) is made. Oh, and Ronan has an amazing voice.  The song China Boats brought a lump to my throat.

I really love SHP.  The vibrant good nature, the supportiveness of the great friends that I’ve made over the few times that I’ve attended has re-inforced how valuable this community is.  If only all subjects had SHP.

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