Inspired by Kathryn Harkup’s book ‘Death By Shakespeare’, I began putting together some ideas about how we can use historical figures to explore other important topics: Mary Shelley and gender; Ignatius Sancho and racism; Alan Turing and sexuality.
The idea would be to use these characters as lenses.
To use their experience and the context of their experiences to educate ourselves about challenging topics.
To learn about significant people from history to inform our future.
Some of the approaches and views have changed drastically over the years, some haven’t changed much at all, and in some cases, our tolerance and acceptance of these topics has regressed.
I believe that being able to compare and contrast the experiences and views of these characters would serve as a really useful tool – especially in schools.
Last night, I recorded myself talking about these ideas and had some excellent feedback and suggestions from teachers, creatives, and historians who have all offered different ideas.
I spoke to my college drama teacher for twenty minutes about how this would work and how it could be expanded and adapted to become a unique technique to bring history to life through role-play. She is currently working with A Level students, using medieval art to provoke creative responses and attempting to relate these concepts to young adults in 2020.
Today, I went to Waterstones to buy the book they have been using as part of their stimulus – ‘Medieval Bodies’ by Jack Hartnell. It is absolutely stunning to look at, and I’m really excited about expanding my practices and developing my own techniques to be used by other teachers from primary level all the way up to A Level. I’m hoping to work with some A Level students in the next few months to help bring some real depth to these characters and view some modern issues through a historical lens.