‘To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child. For what is the worth of human life unless it is woven into the lives of our ancestors by the records of history.” Marcus Tullius Cicero.
In history lessons at The Hall, boys are encouraged to explore bodies of knowledge about the past produced by historians, as well as investigating artefacts and writings from the past. Our goal is to stimulate the boys’ curiosity and to help them develop their knowledge and understanding of people who have lived before us, their behaviours and habitats.
The teaching approaches at The Hall encourage lively, experiential and investigative learning through a variety of media, so that a real interest in the past is engendered in the boys. History is an exciting and relevant subject that draws on children’s experiences and relates them to issues in the past. The aim is to build an historical learning community that goes beyond the curriculum, fostering a spirit of enquiry and continual improvement.
From the early years we aim to develop a sense of interest and enthusiasm in history, through supporting boys’ developing knowledge and understanding of the world through ‘topic’ work in Reception to Year 3; through informal approaches such as role play, art and craft, project work, visiting workshops and excursions and discussion, the basic historical disciplines such as working with sources and forming opinions is developed. In the Junior School specific historical topics covered in recent years include the Greeks, Victorians, Knights and Castles, Dinosaurs, the beginning of the solar system, and some art history.
Over time, in the Middle and Senior Schools, through varied learning activities such as debates, problem solving and independent research study, boys are supported in developing the increasingly intellectual skills required for historical investigation. In Year 4 Roman Britain & ‘What is History?’ are the areas covered and from Years 5-8, the history of the UK from 1066-1666 is explored. The skills of observation, information selection, interpretation and synthesis are developed through access to books, film, ICT, art, drama, excursions and workshops. The different modes allow the boys to acquire information through diverse experiences and then consolidate their learning by transferring their knowledge through writing, drama, art and computer work.
Boys are encouraged to ask questions and yet to appreciate that there may not always be a straightforward answer. They are supported in feeling that their opinion is valued, but that it must be informed and that oversimplification of complex issues is to be avoided. Teaching encourages an appreciation of the nature of data, the need to use judgement and informed estimates. An awareness of the reliability and bias of all sources is reinforced, along with the dangers of stereotyping and generalising.
The curriculum is further enhanced by a range of trips and visits. In Reception the boys visit the Wallace Collection and have special talks from the Head of History; in Year 1 boys enjoy a visit from the Victorian Theatre Company and go to the National Gallery; in Year 2 the boys go to the British Museum, to see the Thames Barrier and on a river cruise, and to explore London in relation to the Great Fire; in Year 3: the boys enjoy a ‘Greek Day’ and visit the ‘Ragged School Museum’, as well as Duxford Imperial War Museum and Knebworth House. In Year 4 dressing up for ‘Roman Day’ and experiencing a day of cultural activities is always good fun, as is an excursion to Southwark Cathedral. In Year 5 boys are taken to Windsor Castle and in Year 6, visits are further afield, to Canterbury Cathedral and the Invasion Beaches at Normandy. In Years 7 and 8, the boys are encouraged to enter the Townsend Warner Shield, which is a national competition for Prep Schools.