Would such a question used as a central thread reveal

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Would such a question, used as a central thread, reveal more about the nature of medieval thinking and attitudes, changes and continuities than a course built around or restricted to half a dozen bedrock events? It might – though it raises the question of how you tackle those old favourites in such a context. Is it unthinkable to whizz past the Norman Conquest – or is there another way of structuring a course? For this see point 6 below. 3. Planning the ‘takeaways’ from Key Stage 3 work on the Middle Ages A little over 800 years ago, the chronicler Gervase of Canterbury wrote: I have no desire to note down all those things which are memorable but only those things which ought to be remembered that is, those things which are clearly worthy of remembrance. Gervase may not have been thinking about writing a scheme of work but he clearly understood the problems of selection, as did many other medieval chroniclers who spent time choosing between the ‘worthy of remembrance’ and the merely ‘memorable’. Similarly, the most important aspect of planning at Key Stage 3 is identifying what we want students to take away from the course. What do we believe it is important for them to know and so be able to use again? In terms of the Middle Ages, such re-use may be in the context of: • the history they cover later in Key Stage 3 • GCSE and, perhaps, A-level history • their overall cultural knowledge and sense of historical perspective • their ability to question public interpretations of this period of history This discussion of planning is therefore firmly focused on the history, not on the needs of assessing students against a set of generic levels, one of the most retrograde developments in education, now being taken to new heights of absurdity by the application of GCSE
Exploring and Teaching Medieval History – Historical Association 101 levels to Key Stage 3 and the insistence that students answer formulaic GCSE questions from the age of 11. History has got more to offer than simply being a means of data collection. In identifying students’ ‘takeaways’ we can think about three categories. The first two overlap a good deal but I’ve separated them so the first doesn’t get lost, as it can do on occasion: A. long-term developments and issues that underpin much Key Stage 3 History but may not always get the time and focus that’s needed to help students see their importance – these include population changes, urbanisation, climate, harvest-dependence. B. long-term ‘stories’ that students can follow across Key Stage 3 and which are usually represented in schemes of work, though not always in every period – social conditions, royal power, the development of popular involvement in politics, beliefs and religion, England’s relationship with the rest of Britain, Britain’s relationship with the rest of the world, migration, the development of empires, changes in gender roles.

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