So, let’s talk about book clubs

Is there anything more comforting than losing yourself in a story? Having been a self-professed ‘book worm’ since before I could even read myself, to me, the answer is ‘no’. There is something truly magical about books, about reading and about being read to. On the latter, I think the key ingredient of the spell was actually being able to discuss the poem or the characters with the person who was reading to you, and let’s not forget how special the conversation that follows the question “so, what did YOU think?” truly was. Usually this conversation is held between a young child and a parent, grandparent or other loved one. That is why book clubs are so special. They provide the opportunity to extend this discussion into adulthood. Being a member of a book club was one of many 2019 new years resolutions I made, but the only one that I have actually stuck to and wholeheartedly embraced. Therefore, I want to share why I think that now, more than ever, is the time to join or start a book club of your own using examples of the three book clubs that I am now a member of.

Staff Book Club

In July 2019 I relocated from my comfortable life in Buckinghamshire to be closer to my family in the West Country. I moved in with my parents and whilst I soon settled back down into my family home, I sorely missed being connected to my friends and book-worm colleagues. Wanting to get to know the staff at my new school outside of my department, I decided to set up a staff book club. We meet once a half-term in the local pub. The meeting lasts an hour and we spend thirty minutes discussing bookish things such as literary crushes, favourite translated books, least favourite books, books we finished the second time round and whether reading on a kindle can truly be as good as paper. In the remaining half-hour we discuss a set book that we have all read, taking turns to choose questions ‘out of a hat’. Our book club consists of 8-10 members – teachers from four different departments and support staff. In September I am moving on to a different school and will definitely either join an existing book club, or will set one up again. It is something I look forward to every term and is a great way to meet new, like minded people.

History Teacher Book Club

More recently I have joined the Twitter @historybookgrp which is run by Simon Beale and Andrew Sweet, and has over 3000 followers. In this club followers vote for a recent book published by an Historian and invites the author of the winning book to take part in the Twitter discussion. The hosts post questions on the book and then History teachers from all over the world can answer and respond to the post. This is an excellent way to connect to people who you wouldn’t usually get the chance to connect with and is fantastic CPD. A number of teachers have been prompted to use these books in their lessons and have created phenomenal resources for their students. In response to the on-going lockdown the hosts have also began a movie night, taking a similar format to the book group discussions, teachers can discuss their thoughts on films such as The Death of Stalin and Suffragette. This is presently my highlight of the week.

Better Together Book Club

Finally, when the government announced school closures on 18th March I was immediately hit which a sense of foreboding. I love teaching and felt that the biggest personal challenge I was going to have over the up-coming weeks/months was the lack of interaction with my students and colleagues. I decided to start the ‘Better Together Book Club’, asking followers on Instagram and Twitter if they would be interested in starting a WhatsApp book club for our time in isolation. There are 10 of us in the group – old and new friends, teachers and family members, all connected through our love of reading and openness to connectivity. We have taken in turns to choose the books which has been an excellent way of expanding or challenging our usual tastes. Our first discussion on Kevin Kwans ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ is due to take place this week, with whoever chose the book hosting the discussion – in this case, me. However, the chat is on-going and is providing a little piece of bookish magic in a very grey situation.

To conclude, if you are feeling a little lonely or are lacking structure then joining or starting a book club might be just the remedy. I have found book clubs to be nostalgic of those special conversations I had as a child with the people who read to me, and of my A-Level English classes where we were given the freedom to express our thoughts and ideas about literature with people who love doing the same. It is, in my opinion, these moments that we need to hold onto and build on as much as possible.

Thank you for taking the time to read and please do not hesitate to leave a question or comment.

Eliza
@elizablwest

So, let’s talk about changing school

I hope you are all having a great start to the new school year. Usually by this time I am truly settled into the swing of things, all my classes are trained and I am starting to think about what I want to achieve in the year ahead. However, this year is different because this year I have changed schools for the first time since my NQT year. I thought that as an (sort of) experienced teacher that this transition would be smooth and enjoyable, after all, though there is a plethora of advice out there for NQTS, I have yet to see a blog, article or even Tweet about the challenges of moving school (if you know of any, please send them my way). I spent the first week feeling totally alone in my experience of finding this move challenging, and I thought that maybe I just wasn’t a good teacher outside of the bubble I had created for myself in my old school. However, when I started to share my difficulties with my new colleagues they all said that they had experienced the same challenges and anxieties that I had been struggling with.

So, now that we are half way through the new term I would just like to share my experiences, thoughts and advice on moving schools so that if you are in the same boat you can take comfort in the fact that you are not alone. I am going to talk about the three things that I have found the most challenging and how I am starting (slowly but surely) to overcome them.

Firstly, being a new member of staff is like being the new kid in class. You don’t know your way around, you don’t know the lingo and you feel like you will never learn anyone’s name. Like being an NQT, when you move school you have to learn a whole new culture. Even the language is different. I have moved from saying ‘yellow card’ to ‘behaviour point’, ‘merit’ to ‘achievement point’ and ‘form group’ to ‘tutor’. This may not seem like a big deal but when you are trying to establish yourself with new classes, getting the language wrong can make you feel exposed and vulnerable. The kids can sense your uncertainty and it doesn’t matter that you’re experienced, you’re not experienced there and they know it. Also, little things make a big difference. Making sure you know how to use the photocopier, what to actually do on duty and when there are meetings are the little things that you would have totally taken for granted but suddenly become critical information when you are trying to navigate your new environment. With the benefit of hindsight, I probably spent too much time learning my new school policies and not enough time asking about the practice, and actually in your first few weeks it is the latter that keeps your head above water.

Secondly, at my previous school I was a teacher who was trusted by the students I taught. Over the years I built up a reputation of being someone who would listen and offer advice. In the first few days at my new school I struggled with the fact that students didn’t stay behind after my lesson to chat, they didn’t get my humour and didn’t know my boundaries. In short, I was comparing my relationship with the kids after three days to the relationship that I had after 4 years. This massively effected my confidence in dealing with behaviour as I had previously relied on the idea of mutual respect and understanding. It meant that I went in too strict and failed to show my human side in the first lessons, something that I was definitely guilty of in the first term of my NQT year. In the second week I decided that I was going to be softer and stick to three behaviour management techniques

  1. counting down
  2. ‘thank you’ not ‘please’
  3. praise

After four weeks of this calm and consistent approach I am definitely getting there with my classes, but to the students I am still just a new teacher that they don’t know and have no reason to trust. This will improve over time but I wish I hadn’t been so hard on myself at first, after all, comparison is the thief of joy.

Lastly, when you are an NQT you also have a smaller timetable which allows you more time for planning, but as an experienced teacher I have found myself with a full timetable and every lesson being planned pretty much from scratch. Because of this, I am finding myself being extremely tired and getting to school much earlier and leaving later than I’ve had to since my own NQT year. However, I am yet to take work home, not because I haven’t got work to do, but because it is important that you try to maintain a reasonable work-life balance. Try to get involved with some social events after school (we do staff HIIT on a Tuesday) or even set up your own because this is an excellent way to meet new people and start to feel part of the community and less like the new kid.

I hope this short blog has been helpful to some. My final piece of advice would be to make sure that you tell someone if you are feeling overwhelmed or that you are struggling with a class. Ask the staff who do know the school and who do know the kids for help. It is not a sign of weakness or incompetence, and no one will think ‘I thought they were experienced’ because actually schools are so different to eachother that starting new is challenging whether you have been teacher 1,5 or 20 years.

Thank you for taking the time to read and please do not hesitate to leave a question or comment.

Eliza

@elizablwest

 

 

 

So, let’s talk about end of year inspiration

Usually things come in threes and my inspiration for writing this blog is no exception. As the academic year draws to a close and as I prepare to begin teaching in a new school, I have found myself inspired to reflect on my own teaching and curriculum choices more than ever since my PGCE year. There is so much ‘stuff’ out there that sometimes it can feel overwhelming and it becomes hard to reconcile what people are saying with your own teaching philosophy. However, the conversations around knowledge and representation are proving to be extremely motivating both on a professional and personal level.

My first moment of inspiration came from the term ‘representative curriculum’ which I will now be using after reading the excellent blog by Claire Holliss. Her blog made me reflect on how representative my own curriculum was. I realised that as suggested in the blog, I wasn’t really telling the ‘best stories’ that I could when thinking about rights in the 20th century with disengaged year 8 class. Instead of focusing on the struggles of the white-lower-middle-classes, which I had previously prided myself on (and still has a place), I decided to try and make my teaching of year 8 more representative. I started with Pride month and went for a ‘big history’ approach on homosexual rights working back from 1969 Stonewall Riots. During this lesson a student opened up to me about his homosexual parent and how much he liked learning about “her history”. I realised then that the lesson had represented something about his life that as a teacher I had previously been missing.
Read Claire’s excellent blog here


Secondly, I have recently read Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race by Reni Eddo-Lodge which was both uncomfortable and empowering. Uncomfortable because when reading chapter 1 on black history in the UK, I reflected on my own teaching and was ashamed to realise that I only teach about civil rights in the USA, the slave trade in relation to plantations (apart from abolition) and have never dedicated a single lesson to British black history. However, the book was also empowering because I am aware that as a history teacher I have the agency to change this. I can be active in ensuring that I rectify this situation and decided that black history was going to be next in my mission to diversify my year 8 curriculum.


My last moment of inspiration came from a Twitter post. I was pushed into action when Johnny Hemphill kindly shared his database on first Windrush passenger list. I used this resource as a starter to see what the students could infer from the list. They already knew a lot but there were some misconceptions such as it all being about money and illegal immigration. They had heard of Windrush but didn’t know what it was or why it was significant and they struggled to see how it is linked to them. About half way through the lesson one student told me that his grandfather was part of the Windrush generation but he had never spoken to him about it because he hadn’t known what it was. He was delighted that he would be able to ask his grandfather about his experiences next time he saw him. I used an excellent resource from the British Library so that the students could explore real stories about Windrush, but also some recent videos to link the history to the Windrush scandal. At the end of the lesson we had an open discussion about the treatment of immigrants in the UK which was inspired by the article on controversial topics in Teaching History 175.


To conclude, I was inspired to write this blog after scrolling through Twitter and finding three manageable, insightful and accessible ideas to take forward into my own teaching. I wanted to demonstrate how you can then put those ideas into practice in a meaningful way and how I have taken charge of my own curriculum to make it more representative.

Thank you for taking the time to read and please do not hesitate to leave a question or comment.

Eliza

@elizablwest

So, let’s talk about Chalke Valley History Festival

Today I had the pleasure of travelling down to Wiltshire with 45 students to attend the annual Chalke Valley History Festival – basically Glastonbury but with academic historians and journalists instead of musicians and glitter. It was a fantastic day and I wanted to share my thoughts on why I think it is possibly the best day field trip to organise for students.

Firstly, it is important to introduce young people to a wide variety of academic historians from a young age so that they can understand what an historian is, but also so that they have relatable role models within the academic sphere. I thought the programme this year was fantastically diverse (see below). Although I know that this is subject to debate, certainly a couple of years ago (see article here), I do think the festival is moving in the right direction and it is definitely more diverse than other events I have attended with students. What is important to me is that from speaking to different students throughout the day, I found that they all had different ‘favourites’. I love the fact that my students left the festival with a favourite historian, something that I didn’t experience until university.

Secondly, the cost was reasonable at £17 per student, with a discount for Pupil Premium students at £6. When considering that most paper back books fall around the £10 mark it puts into perspective what excellent value for money this is, giving the students the opportunity to engage with academic historians for a fraction of the cost of buying the books. There were also students who attended today who had not signed up for our Berlin or Washington DC trip due to the cost of residentials, so I think it is important to provide field trips which are accessible to all students.

Thirdly, the living history element of the festival where students could go and talk to different people in costume and ask them about the time period they were representing was excellent for both chronological understanding and a sense of period. There are few places that I have visited that have provided a full overview from Normans to WW2 which solely focused on every day life .

Lastly, it is a truly fantastic day for teachers. It helped me to brush up on my subject knowledge and explore completely new ideas. My favourite talk was by journalist Rania Abouzeid on her experience of covering Syria for 6 years. Yes, I bought her book (from the very impressive Waterstones tent) and shamelessly fan-girled her at the end, but perhaps the best bit for me was getting to share the excitement of learning something new with the students who had also attended her talk.

To conclude, I know that it is getting increasingly difficult to take students out of school during lesson time, but I would certainly fight to run Chalke Valley again over all other trips.

Thank you for taking the time to read and please do not hesitate to leave a question or comment.

Eliza

@elizablwest

So, let’s talk about ‘Boy’s Don’t Try?’

This has been a long time coming after neglecting my blog writing intentions for over a year. However, earlier this year a book was published which has already had a profound effect on the way I teach. I decided to run a staff seminar on this book, as current lead for educational research at my school. Yes, I was excited when I saw this book advertised on Twitter and the really positive reviews that came flooding in, but it was the potential to get a conversation going on this issue in my own school that really pushed me into reading it. I have read the book from cover to cover, it made me laugh and cry, made my angry with myself for times when I have lowered expectations, both of myself and the boys I teach. It is an overwhelmingly positive book, which is positive about men and boys. I am a feminist. I think everyone should be a feminist. I think that people who lower their expectations of boys are not promoting anything at all, but instead are simply limiting the potential of boys. It is people like this who also like to push the ‘man up’ agenda, or who feel the need to slate the feminist movement. The key here, is that the title of this book is ‘Boys Don’t Try?’ with a question mark NOT a full stop – it is about expectations rather than limitations. This blog is simply my thoughts on this book, how I interpreted the authors meaning and how I would like to see this conversation manifesting itself in schools.

Pinkett and Roberts suggest that these are the questions we should be asking our boys:

  • Is he invested in all of his relationships, not just romantic ones?
  • Does he express his emotions in a healthy way?
  • Is self-awareness a concept he’s comfortable with?
  • Does he commit to personal growth?
  • Are boundaries something he is aware of and respects?
  • Is he unafraid of male intimacy?

I personally loved the protest against the term ‘toxic masculinity’. Think about it, do we really want to tell our boys that they are toxic, when the very word implies something contaminating or disease ridden? We don’t want our boys thinking that that is how we feel about them. We want the boys we teach to feel that they are valued and that we want them to be present, both physically and emotionally. We greet them at the door, we ask them how they are, we say good morning, we compliment their smiles, we make a mental note of any angry or sad faces, we make sure we spend time with them on our ‘rounds’ of the classroom. We need to engage with them in the way that we want them to engage with us.

On the topic of engagement, there are three engagement myths which are explored in this book. I can put my hands up and say that I have been guilty of all of these:

  1. Boys like competition
  2. Learning must be made relevant to boys’ interests
  3. Boys have different learning styles

However, these myths can be damaging to boys because of the following:

  1. Boys are not all the same – in fact they are not one mass, and are usually as different to one another as they could be to girls
  2. It prevents boys from building a cultural capital e.g. by creating a world cup game around Shakespeare it is detracting from the language and vocabulary. We are limiting their exposure to new ideas as well as making assumptions about what boys like (some boys hate football and will find the lesson dull) and limiting their academic potential
  3. It encourages low expectations
  4. It promotes the dominant anti-school masculinity
  5. It plays on the largely discredited (most notably by psychologist Daniel Willingham) assumption that boys are usually kinaesthetic learners – leading to my favourite quote of the book…‘Boys continue to wander and fondle for no good reason’ p20

So, what do the authors recommend? Teach boys in exactly the same way you would teach girls, high challenge, high expectations, no gimmicks, no shortcuts.

Now onto expectations more broadly. This was a truly fascinating chapter where I had to really challenge my own expectations of boys. In research conducted at Exeter University it was found that girls who excelled academically were viewed as being seen as typical girls, while underachieving boys were viewed as typical of their gender.

The chapter also looks at the concept of ‘degrees of laddishness’ and I found this quote particularly interesting –  ‘it depends on whether they are being laddish with you or laddish against you’ – I think this is something that we experience at a lot as teachers, where we constantly feel like we need to get certain boys on-side. This, the authors suggest, has a huge impact on our behaviour management of boys and can lead to inconsistency. The chapter also highlights the disparities in disciplining boys and disciplining girls, where 62% of boys felt like they were treated unfavourably by teachers. In co-ed schools there is often a disproportionate number of boys in bottom sets and the chapter goes into a lot of detail on the arguments against setting for mindset and expectations, which I would really encourage you to read.

The main premise of the chapter on expectations is on the Pygmalion effect vs the Golem effect. The idea that high expectations have a highly beneficial influence on outcomes and the opposite Golem effect where negative expectations lead to poor outcomes. The authors specifically reference teachers going through class lists as a negative practice that can lead to Golem effect and this is something I think we should all be thinking about when starting with new classes in September. I am starting a new school in the Autumn Term and I am hyper aware that this opportunity to be a brand new face is special. I would not want the students to make judgements on me, and I certainly will not be sitting down with teachers to be given the ‘low-down’ on them. It’s not right, and it’s not fair.

There are two chapters which really stuck out to me as ‘must reads’ – the one disadvantaged students and the one on sexism. My point of view is shaped from being a ‘disadvantaged’ student myself, and also that I teach in a wealthy area, therefore the students that we do have in the school who need financial support have their own specific needs that result from being surrounded by wealth and privilege. For example, when our disadvantaged students get into university, they are likely to graduate with £14,000 more debt than our students who do not need to apply for full loans. By the way, that puts you at a disadvantage every month for the rest of your life, when your wealthy friends have that extra money for saving and you don’t.

This is something that is very close to my heart, I come from a working class background, my little sister is pupil premium, however, I have never met a mother who cares more about their child’s education than mine. My eyes watered when we discussed pupil premium strategies and funding in a staff meeting, listening to the assumptions and generalisations made by the teachers at my school. Our education system is centred around middle class values and the ‘character education’ that is being widely implemented around British schools has been criticised by some from trying to instil these middle class values on working class students, belittling their own family values. Every time a teacher comments on diet, asks about holidays or assumes that parents who don’t turn up for parents evenings are lazy.

However, the situation is clearly complex. How can we give the students the cultural capital (that the book also discusses in great detail) without challenging these values? I can’t deny that I did not feel the effects of this lack of cultural capital when I went to university. I struggled in seminars to find the words, I was intimidated by middle-class peers, even though we had achieved the same grades. Was this because my teachers had dumbed things down for me? Did they decrease my cultural capital? Yes. My english teacher, and hero in life, maintained high expectations of me and I got an A in my A-level. My history teacher did not teach me about historiography. I now know that Johnny and Daisy had extra lessons where they were taught about this. I now know that historiography is crucial in achieving high grade A-level history. I now know why I got a C in history and an A in English. It was my teachers perceptions of what I could achieve.

The second chapter that has really stuck with me was chapter 6. So, let’s talk about numbers straight away:

  • 1 in 5 girls we teach will experience sexual violence
  • There over 3,000 revenge porn sites on the internet
  • If an individual watched the top 50 porn titles they would see 3,375 aggressive acts towards women. Gagged 756 times, open hand slap 361 times, hair pulled 267 times, choked 180 times
  • 59% of girls and young women aged 13-21 said they have experienced some form of sexual harassment at school
  • 54% of female students and 34% of male students say they have witnessed someone using sexist language

ALL teachers need to be aware of this. We need to stop placing emphasis on things like sexting and ignoring the bigger issues. It is not enough to have one session on this in year 10. Year 10 is too late. The final bullet point there is revealing. There seems to be a disparity between what some girls think of as sexist language, and what some boys think of. This is the problem. This is what schools need to be talking about and SLT needs to be leading on.

Hannah Wilson, founder of Women-Ed suggests the following:

  1. We need a sexist log to sit alongside a racist log and one for homophobia
  2. Schools need to have a clear and concise policy on sexism, made publicly available to staff, students and parents
  3. Make it clear that it is not acceptable and NOT an inevitable part of growing up
  4. Do not tolerate or dismiss behaviours as ‘banter’ or ‘boys being boys’ or ‘just having a laugh’

The book calls for ‘absolute clarity’ in dealing with this issue and supporting boys in navigating this reality. I see it every day in my school and outside of school. Not sexual harassment, but the way in which sexism is downplayed as an issue. The way the media tries to demonise feminists. The way male members of staff make jokes at their female colleagues expense. The way my girls make perfectly valid points as a question.

But to finish, let’s go back to the boys and the relationships that boys have with each other. The chapter on relationships asks the question: why are boys for horrible to each other? They talk about banter. The authors suggest that banning this word completely in school misses the point. The point is that sometimes it is very hard for students to understand the line between banter and bullying in fact 29% of young people who have been bullied in the last 12 months have said the bully was a close friend. It talks about the origins of ‘your mum’ jokes and how these can escalate into deeply disturbing and out of control comments about people’s mothers as ‘banter’ but stresses that it is up to the adults in the school to decide on these boundaries and provide the students with clarity. It also discusses how staff ‘banter’ can have an extremely negative effect on the students for example using sarcasm in front students or saying to students that you don’t like history or maths etc as a joke. Sarcasm used by teachers only confuses these boundaries. Once again, this book is calling for clarity, it is calling for conversation, it is calling for high expectations of boys, of girls and of the adults in a school.

In summary, I would implore you to read this book, then to share your thoughts. Get a conversation going in your own school. Read extracts out in your office. Hold a seminar. Talk to your form about it. Ask the boys (and the girls)what they think. I am just a history teacher with a passion for education. I will be blogging as I go from here on in about educational issues that I feel are important, but I couldn’t think of a better reintroduction to blogging life than the wonderful ‘Boy’s Don’t Try?’ by Mark Roberts and Matt Pinkett. Please feel free to message me on Twitter or leave a comment if you would like to keep the conversation going.

Many thanks for reading,

Eliza

@elizablwest

 

So, let’s talk about Nuremberg

As a history teacher it is no surprise that I am a massive fan of Berlin, in fact it is my favourite trip that we take the kids on. However, it is important to remember that there is more to German history than that of the capital, so when looking for a cheap Easter break Nuremberg caught my eye. Not only does the city have a fascinating medieval history (more of this later) but it was also held in extremely high regard by Hitler for its quintessential German-ness. What really appealed to me was the association with international law and the infamous Nuremberg Trials. Therefore I set out my three day itinerary as such:

Day 1: The old town (‘Altstadt’) and castle complex

Day 2: Nazi Documentation Centre and Palace of Justice

Day 3: Nuremberg Zoo (for some light relief)

In my previous post I set out my four criteria for travel destinations (I would actually like to address the concept of ‘travelling’ at this point. You do not have to backpack or share a dormitory to ‘travel’), so these are my thoughts on each one…

Affordable flights and accommodation 

Being a small city, Nuremberg is excellent for a 3 day break and is extremely affordable as there are early morning outward and late night inward flights available. This means that you can put together a 3 day itinerary with only 2 nights accommodation costs. We stayed at Hotel DasPaul which was in an unbeatable location, and had flat whites with poached eggs, bacon and avocado on toast for breakfast. Fellow millennials – this is the place for you! It also had incredible views of the castle

EF596405-9AD2-49C7-A4DC-5E2F56D5E92A.jpegMuseums and historical sites

It’s fair to say that Nuremberg beats Berlin handsdown when it comes to architecture. Don’t get me wrong, I love communist blocks (of flats) as much as the next history teacher, but can anything really surpass a medieval old town? Everywhere you turn there are little bridges and turrets, which make you feel like you are in a real life Brothers Grimm.

 

However, it is hard not feel slightly uneasy with the beauty of the city when you keep in mind that Hitler saw the very same streets as justification for German superiority and oppressive ‘Nuremberg Laws.’ Despite this the way in which the city has come to terms with, and had chosen to present its history is remarkable. All over the town you will find information boards about the rallies and different memorials to the victims of the Nazi Regime, for example this garden commemorating the homosexual victims of persecution

6B1485E1-BE64-4E6D-BD12-5E0CC90010B2.jpegAside from walking around the ‘Altstadt’ we did visit three specific sites; the castle, the Nazi Documentation Centre and the Palace of Justice. It is worth mentioning that the latter two of the three come under one ticket price of €9 along with a few others museums, so it really is excellent value.

The castle was really interesting and cost a total of €7 to explore of exhibition on the Holy Roman Empire, climb the tower and drop some water into a 50m well (I was thoroughly entertained by this). It was a good way to get a flavour for Nuremberg’s history on the first day of the break, which really helped to contextualise the darker situation of the 20th century.

On the second day we visited the Documentation Centre and the Palace of Justice. The Documentation Centre is built in the old Nazi rally grounds, which is impressive in itself. Each visitor is given an audio guide, which whilst informative, did not provide any thing additional to what I already knew (this is because I teach it, not because of a lack of information). I suppose I would describe the tone of the information as ‘cold’, but this is totally understandable. There was an option for a kids tour on the audio guide, but I was disappointed that that was only provided in German as I would have loved to have heard how this history was presented to children in Germany.

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For me, the Palace of Justice was the highlight of the trip. Being able to sit in the court room where those in a position of total authority had been brought to justice on the international stage was honestly quite humbling. There is also a fantastic exhibition (with audio guide) on the process of the trials and also on developments on international law since Nuremberg.

Ideas for lessons and activities 

Now for the juicy bit…

I don’t know about you but I really love the buzz of a lesson idea coming to you when you are in a museum or at a historical site, and in Nuremberg this happened to me a lot. Below are two activities that I am already excited about using in my own lessons.

In the footsteps of history: Who might have stood where I have stood? 

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I am going to use the above photo as a starter for a year 10 lesson on the Nuremberg Rallies. I will ask the students to hypothesise ‘who might have stood where I have stood?’ Having done this activity before I know that it provokes a really high level of discussion, and that the kids love it when I show off my ‘history nerdiness’. If you don’t like sharing holiday snaps then a picture of a street and the question ‘who might have walked on these cobbles?’ would also work well.

Why is it called the ‘Hitler Putsch’ in Germany?

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I saw this information board in the Nazi Documentation Centre and was immediately curious about why this event is called the ‘Hitler Putsch’ when we teach it as the ‘Munich Putsch’ – although I don’t know the answer to this, I can only assume that it is an attempt to disassociate the place with the individual. This could lead on to so many interesting discussions about how the Nazi Regime is taught in Germany and about interpretation as a whole, which I will do as a plenary.

Quirky book and coffee shops

Okay, so Nuremberg is not great for bookshops. Even in the museums the gift/book shops were virtually non-existent which was a shame as I would have liked to have picked up some literature to take away. Likewise, coffees seemed to be expensive and rather grey. Having said that, we did find an excellent coffee shop called ‘Mondo’ and the plethora of ice cream parlours really made up for it.

On the subject of books, I always try to read a book either about the country I am visiting, or translated from the language of the country I am visiting, beforehand. So, if you are planning on visiting Germany I would highly recommend reading ‘The Book Thief’ by Markus Zusak, ‘The Reader’ by Bernhard Schlink, ‘The Innocent’ by Ian McEwan and ‘The Tin Drum’ by Günter Grass.

Final thoughts

I absolutely loved my trip to this wonderful city. It was crammed full of history and was the perfect size for a short break. It was also one of those places where the street signs and information boards are still written in their native tongue, and it has not yet been invaded by embarrassing British hen and stag dos, so you really get the sense of ‘living like a local.’

I hope you enjoyed reading this post. Please do you hesitate to leave any comments or questions below.

Best, Eliza

 

 

 

So, let’s talk about blogging

Thanks for taking a look at my blog! This has really come about as a way for me to share my experiences as a history teacher who is passionate about all things to do with education. I will be sharing my thoughts on education and social issues, but also some more lighthearted travel advice and the lessons ideas that come to me when I am in museums. My general criteria for holidays is:

1. Affordable flights and accommodation

2. Plenty of museums and/or historical sites

3. Ideas for lessons and activities to share with my students

4.  Quirky book and coffee shops

Thank you for taking the time to read and please do not hesitate to leave a question or comment.

Eliza

@elizablwest