The danger of dressing up our subjects as something else

Clio et cetera

One of the saddest things I see (and have done) in schools is the dressing up of our subjects so that they look like something else.

Take Tudor England. The stories that surround this period are quite amazing. The wider-world context in the sixteenth century is fascinating. Dynastic struggle, religious extremism, the emergence of the Atlantic as a route of travel, the writing of some of the greatest literature Britain has seen: the sixteenth century comes loaded with conflict and compromise, catastrophe and creation.

And yet the first time I taught the period I insisted on dressing it up as something else. I got them to take the role of an archaeological team who had uncovered an old Tudor property in London. I ran ‘Queen Elizabeth I blind date’. I got them to produce board games. I made them take on the roles of military planners in the Spanish Armada.

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