Planning help from back issues of Teaching History

Thanks to Anne Hooper, member of HA Secondary Committee, for modelling how her department has trawled the back issues of Teaching History for curriculum planning support. The ‘vague recollection’ she talks abouts is not there in the minds of new members, but there are always people to ask. For example, a call out on Twitter for ‘anyone know a TH article that can help with…’ is bound to get help. Lots of TH articles are referred to in the ‘New, Novice, Nervous’ and ‘What’s the Wisdom On’ features too – a good places to start.

One of the benefits of membership of the HA is the number of back issues of Teaching History available immediately at our fingertips via the online archive on the HA website.   This is a function I use a lot as having been a member of the HA for over twenty years I often have a “vague recollection” of something having been in an issue at some point. Rather than dig through my physical copies a quick search throws up what I want.

With our department just changing A Level course, I am finding myself teaching Fascist Italy for the first time in over 15 years and therefore spent some of the summer putting together my resources for the year.   I vaguely remembered an article published some years ago about “Mussolini’s Marriage”.  A quick search on the HA website found it, written by Diana Laffin and Maggie Wilson, this article was published in 2005 in TH120.  The article argues that as history teachers we are constantly aware of the parallels between past and present.  “Analogies, comparisons and metaphors”, Laffin and Wilson argue “can all play a role in helping students to gain an understanding of the feelings, attitudes and beliefs of those living in the past.”    In the “Mussolini Marriage Analogy” the issue of the Lateran Pacts of 1929 have been put under the spotlight and the challenge of getting students to understand how a Christian institution could endorse a brutal, totalitarian regime is examined.  The object of this exercise is to use the analogy of a relationship to engage students in the complexity of the issue.  Laffin and Wilson argue that this relationship between church and state has all the ingredients of a good soap opera with a high profile couple from different backgrounds with a serious quarrel from the past which continues to sour the relationship.   The relationship is explored through different states “from prenuptial counselling to the anniversary party ten years later”.   The article, as you would expect from any published in TH, has all the step by step guidance needed to implement this in the classroom with each of the four stages described. Students are organised into groups of four, in each group there will be the prospective couple (Mussolini and the Church) and two marriage guidance counsellors.  There are full instructions provided in the article for the students taking the role of Counsellors.   

Having found this article, as often happens online, I was taken down a rabbit warren as I decided “out of interest” to see what else was in this issue.  Interestingly,  TH120 was entitled “Diversity and Diversion”.  Over recent years  a lot of work has been by history departments to diversify their history curriculum and Rupert Gaze was urging us to do this in his article “Uncovering the hidden histories: black and Asian people in the two world wars.”  Gaze emphatically tells us that “History is a construct – and it can be reconstructed”, something that we have heard a lot recently but reminds us that the issues we wrestle with today are not new.   Gaze, when writing this, was the Learning and Access Officer at Imperial War Museum North and the article discusses the Museum’s statement of purpose, of ensuring that every individual who contributed was able to find an illustration of their sacrifice in the museum galleries.    He gives us the quotes of how India provided 1.5 million troops by the end of WW1 and 2.5 million by the end of WW2 and reminds us that these troops were all volunteers.  8 million people from the British Empire and Commonwealth fought during both world wars with over 300,000 dying: that is 1 in every 26.  If you’ve watched or read David Olusoga’s “The World’s War” or read “Black and British” you will be aware of points that Gaze informed us that during the First World War, British Empire and Commonwealth forces fought on the Western Front, at Gallipoli, in east and west Africa, the Middle East and at sea.  In the Second World War forces from the Empire and Commonwealth were involved in campaigns across southern and western Europe, the Mediterranean, north and east Africa, south-east Asia, the Pacific, the Middle East, on land, in the air and at sea.  Throughout the article, Gaze urges us to ensure that we’re including the hidden histories in our teaching and to address the questions of why they have been hidden until now.   He ends with the plea to  “remember to view everything with diversity-tinted spectacles – emphasise inclusivity.  The resources are out there to help to counter the whitewashed story of the wars”

So take the plunge and search through past issues and find out what history departments have been grappling with through the ages and remember old favourites to help your planning.

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