History

History at prep school should aim to combine giving pupils knowledge and understanding of the past with the investigative and critical skills a young historian requires. At Ludgrove, we believe that history should be story time. The teachers’ expert subject knowledge must be the most important resource. The teachers in the department use prepared PowerPoint presentation slideshows to tell the stories. In this lecture form, lessons are dynamic, all-inclusive, lively and designed to elicit knowledge from the pupils. Only after the slideshow lecture, the odd visit to a useful website, as well as watching relevant DVDs, do the pupils write brief teacher-prepared notes in exercise books. They will be tested on these brief notes weekly. Although these resources are undoubtedly useful, it must be reiterated that without the teacher's knowledge, there can be no passion, no dynamism and none of those unforgettable anecdotal gems. For example, how can the Battle of Crecy be taught without reference to the Blind King of Bohemia's incredible suicidal sideshow? Just as we never forget bedtime fairy tales, these stories in history lessons should stay with us forever. For the final two years, the teaching starts to target the Common Entrance syllabus more directly. Although the pupils gain knowledge of the past in the same way, the historical skills of investigation and evaluating sources start to be developed. As well as this, the pupils are taught how to answer questions in an extended essay form. They cannot be expected to do this without their essays being “scaffolded” by the teacher. Therefore, it is the department's aim to give the pupils knowledge through fun stories combined with arming them with the weapons to succeed at Common Entrance.