I’d like to say this was my idea but it isn’t. It’s my friend Andy’s idea. But it’s a good one so I thought I would share.
Sat in a pub one dark and dingy night last year Andy and I were sadly discussing the traits of a good historian. The conversation began with one of our geekily favourite questions – “stuff the levels what do you want our kids to know and do?” (ok we used a different word than stuff but you get the idea). After an ale or two we had a long list of content, skills and random things that we passionately believed should be present in our teaching and their learning. In essence we’d made a manifesto for our classrooms. Finally Andy posed a different question “Have you ever told your students this?” and I was stumped as if I’m being honest I don’t think I have.
Why hadn’t I done this? Time constraints? Pressure to cover content? Who knows. Either way that question and it’s obvious answer plagued me. How could my students achieve what I wanted unless I explicitly told them?
At the TeachMeet I organised in May Andy presented his idea and suggested that every teacher should have a manifesto that they explicitly share with their students. His manifesto can be seen on the Bristol Schools History Forum website. There and then I decided I would start the new academic year with my own manifesto.
And that’s what I’ve done this week with all my classes from KS3 to KS5. I told my students what I wanted them to be. My manifesto is below:
If you can’t work it out I’d like the students to have the following:
- Passion for history – Pepe
- See the minute detail – microscope
- See the bigger picture
- Weigh up evidence to reach a conclusion
- See there are different interpretations and views
- Curiosity – the cats
- A predominant knowledge of British history but an understanding of how this fits into a wider global history
What the impact of this is I will have to wait and see but I certainly believe it was worth doing. It showed my students why I am passionate about my subject and gave them clear goals to achieve.