Studying history teaches us how the world came to be the way it is, but it also teaches us something about ourselves and our place in the world. Through learning about past struggles, not only can we appreciate the fortitude and vision of our forebears, but their example can enrich our thoughts and inspire our actions, helping to forge our identities.
Source analysis and essay writing are essential skills that are taught in History lessons, but we aim to develop a much broader skillset at Vinehall, including the ability to identify and analyse trends, to evaluate competing interpretations of events and to engage with ethical and moral questions. It is hoped that such skills will serve the children well in the years ahead of them, not only at school but throughout their lives.
In Years 7 and 8 at Vinehall, we have introduced a thematic curriculum with the themes broadly falling into two categories, social history and natural history. We want pupils’ understanding of contemporary issues to be informed by a coherent chronological narrative that will enable them to appreciate both their place in an ongoing story and the responsibilities they have when it comes to writing the next chapters.
In the Michaelmas Term, the theme for the Year 7s was Conflict. Beginning with the Norman Conquest, the children learnt about conflicts over the last thousand years, focusing particularly on the impact that conflicts have on society, but also looking at related ideas, such as leadership.
The theme of Conflict was launched by taking the children to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, where they explored HMS Victory, Nelson’s flagship from the Battle of Trafalgar, as well as HMS M.33, a small ship that saw action during WWI. The thematic approach is intended to enable pupils to understand how different historical periods link together and these two ships illustrate starkly the impact that technological developments can have on warfare and the experience of the sailors on board. In little more than one hundred years, Britain went from fighting naval battles with wooden ships powered by the wind to fighting them with steel ships no longer reliant on the weather to get them across the world’s oceans.