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#1 alison denton

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Posted 16 April 2004 - 08:37 AM


You can hear the collective groans up and down the country when this topic is reached in the scheme of work – and the pupils don’t like it much either.


In fact, the Industrial Revolution has always been one of my favourite ‘topics’ to teach, and I want to try to persuade you that it has much to offer in itself, not just as a means of getting from the Stuarts to the First World War in the quickest possible time.

I want to encourage you to share your thoughts about this sometimes murky area of the National Curriculum. Good ideas are always welcome – there is no such thing as an original idea in education (or very rarely). Good practice is a distillation of the best ideas, refined and honed. So please share!

I am going to post three parts to this seminar:

1. Why is the Industrial Revolution considered to be so boring by teachers and pupils?
2. What fundamental things can be done to plan it in a motivating and interesting way?
3. How can pupils be engaged and enthused with learning this topic? I will post some ideas taken from what we actually teach.

1. Why is the Industrial Revolution considered to be so boring by both teachers and pupils?
I have heard it said so often I’m almost beginning to believe it, that ‘the kids don’t like the Industrial Revolution’ and ‘they only like the modern stuff’. I really don’t think this is true. There is nothing intrinsically uninteresting about any part of history per se, but there are a number of reasons why this particular myth seems to be so very good at self-perpetuation for the Industrial Revolution:

· Many departments teach the Industrial Revolution at the beginning of Year 9 when two factors come together to induce panic and fear and a feeling that ‘not enough is being done’ – the imminence of ‘Options’ and the statutory need to ‘get to the end of the course’. The Industrial Revolution is the unwitting victim of the black cloud this produces.

· Many teachers see it as ‘a trot through the inventions’, and dish up a diet of spinning jennies, Puffing Billys and machines that could weave cloth at an alarming rate (for that time), housed in the dizzying heights of four storey buildings. This impressed people in the 18th century – but we are teaching the progeny of the computer age. They are not so easily impressed.

· The significance of the Industrial Revolution for our lives today is not exploited enough. It is treated as a ‘moment in time’, as remote as the three field system or life in a monastery, but without the sunshine

· Our industrial heritage seems to be forgotten – not enough links are made to ‘how was it for you’: the impact of the Industrial Revolution on the area where your pupils live. For us in South Wales, the textile and pottery industries had less impact than coal and iron – so why do pupils spend weeks on Josiah Wedgewood?

· Where are all the heroes? I have to admit that the 18th and early 19th century seems to be populated entirely by men (therein lies a good lesson in itself) but what men they were! These are superheroes in the pantheon of historical giants – Richard Trevithick who towered above ordinary men, won countless ‘hold the greatest weight on your thumb’ competitions in the local pub and built a railroad at the top of the Andes; Richard Arkwright, wig-maker turned far-sighted entrepreneur with a strong philanthropic streak; Brunel (well, what can I add to Jeremy Clarkson’s tribute to this slightly mad genius? Nothing). I suspect the trouble for many teachers is that these men also exploited the working class and thus it is challenging to teach about them positively, but that seems to me to be at fundamental cross-purposes with the role of teacher, which is not to indoctrinate pupils with your own world view, but rather to help them see the world as it was, and be able to explain why it was so. Admittedly pupils should learn about the experiences of the ordinary folk (they crop up so rarely in KS3 after all) but it isn’t all about fingers wrenched off in rollers and chimney sweeps suffocating to death.

· And finally, the one reason most teachers are uncomfortable with the topic, I think: there is too much of it! It was a time of so much change and there is so much you could teach about – how on earth do you select what to teach and what to leave out, and at the same time maintain a sense of period and cohesion for pupils? How should the issue of significance be tackled? Navigating the Industrial Revolution is an explorer’s nightmare. One thing is sure – if you try to teach it all you will end up with everything covered in the same (lack of) depth, and it is too easy to revert to a descriptive style: ‘this happened, then that, then something else, and it was like this and like that…’ Teaching then becomes very monotone, and nothing makes sense. The pupils will justly begin to ask, ‘why are we doing this?’ Result? Teacher throws in the towel and heads straight for Sarajevo …

But hey – I’m an optimist, look on the bright side! I want to argue that this is far from being the most difficult and boring area to teach. In fact it is the most significant part of our history, for it really does bridge the gap between the old world and the new, and as if that wasn’t reason enough for taking it seriously as a contender for the ‘best topic’ Oscars, it offers unparalleled opportunities for cross-curricular education – banking and business, citizenship, religion and culture, in fact the whole P,E,S,C,R rainbow.

So – Why do you (and/ or your pupils) hate it so much?

#2 Russel Tarr

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Posted 16 April 2004 - 09:06 AM

Personally, I think that the topic is great if limited to one term (in our case, Autumn of Year 9).

1. Causes
We start by considering "What makes a successful businessperson?" comparing 3 modern entrepreneurs (Gates, Dyson, Branson) in a Venn diagram, trying to get to an 'X' factor.

We then look at Arkwright to see if he demonstrates similar qualities.

Then, we play an Interactive Decision Making Game to see how much they have learned.

Then, we produce a flow chart showing how raw materials / entrepreneurs / developments in farming etc etc were linked as causes.

2. Consequences
(a) Local perspective - The Bilston Cholera Epidemic (complete with role play etc)
(B) National perspective - Jack the Ripper

Nevertheless, despite being a punchy and varied unit, the students still hate all the stuff prior to Jack the Ripper. I say this with authority - we run a questionairre for the whole of Year 9 at the end of the year and 95% list this as their least favourite topic. Basically, I think it is wedged between the 'romance' of the Tudor period and the 'relevance' of the modern era. It comes across as rather dry and dusty whatever we seem to do with it...

"There's an old saying about those who forget history. I don't remember it, but it's good" - Stephen Colbert

#3 Richard Drew

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Posted 16 April 2004 - 11:48 AM

My thoughts are that the IR is approached too often from a 'content' and 'chronological trudge' perspective.

Much of the actual 'content' of the IR is as Russell says not very 'romantic', so why labour on with teaching 'the facts'?

Exciting activities based around progressing historical skills will free up this stuffiness and make it really engaging. the questions asked and the skills focus given are essential for me.

Also as has already been mentioned timing is important. they arrive back from summer to start y9 full of hormones and new stroppy attitudes with questions like "when are we doing the world wars?" and we say "after we've learned about spinning jennies, chartism and canals"

The IR should at least be started in y8 if not finished in y8. i love to look at the causes of the IR before the summer of y8 and then cover the consequences at the start of y9, freeing up more time of C20 world.

Why do people hate the IR so much? i think it is because we ask them to learn too many facts for facts sake
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#4 Dan Lyndon

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Posted 16 April 2004 - 12:43 PM

When I redesigned my Scheme of Work for Britain 1750-1900, I decided to move away from the linear, chronological 'trudge' and set up an enquiry based approach, which I have cut and paste below - granted this does limit the content of the Industrial rev to 2 lessons, but the overall effect was much more positive and engaged the pupils alot more than my previous attempts:

Scheme of Work Britain 1750-1900

Key Enquiry Question: As a result of the changes between 1750 and 1900 did life get better or worse for the people of Britain?

Historical Knowledge, skills and understanding: KE 1, 2a,c,e, 3a,b, 4a,b, 5a,b,c

Topics: Overview 1750-1900 1 lesson KE1
Agricultural Revolution 1 lesson (inc H/W) KE2a,c
Industrial Revolution - Factories 2 lessons (inc H/W) KE3a,b 4a,b
Changes in Transport - Railways 1 lesson (inc H/W) KE2a,c
Living conditions - Towns in Victorian England 1 lesson KE 5a, 2a
Political changes - Problems with Democracy,women in 19th C (inc H/W) 2 lessons KE2a,c

Assessment: Essay / Powerpoint presentation / Video Role Play 2 lessons KE5a,b,c

Teaching Time: Approx 10 lessons

Lesson 1: Overview 1750 - 1900
Use this lesson to set the context for the forthcoming lessons. The activity provides a contrast between 1750, 1825 (optional) and 1900 in 6 areas: Population, work, education, health, politics and transport. Can be completed as group/pair work dividing up sections and sharing findings. Follow up with questions identifying main areas of change. Challenge pupils to decide whether these changes always meant progress.
Re Discovering Britain 1750-1900 pp 4-9, Peace and War pp 2-7, New worlds for Old pp 2-3, Heinemann H/W pack pp 5-11

Lesson 2: Enquiry - How did changes in farming affect people?Set up the lesson with a recap on main changes with emphasis on population growth and link to the problems in farming. The activity is based on the problems and their solutions - crop rotation, selective breeding and enclosure. Homework is an activity based around a discussion of the impact that these had on both rich and poor farmers, which should be linked into the Key enquiry.
New Worlds for Old pp 4-6, Peace and War pp 26-28

Lessons 3-4: Enquiry - How reliable is the evidence we use about children working in the mills?

The context for these lessons is the Industrial Revolution, in particular the growth of the factory system. In lesson 1 students need to acquire knowledge of the need for factories (worksheet - the beginning of factory production). This should enable students to argue the benefits of industrialisation compared with the Domestic System. The main focus for the second lesson should be on the working conditions. This is an ideal vehicle for evaluating the utility and reliability of historical sources and in particular to reinforce the notion that even biased sources are useful. The activities use biased sources to describe how child workers were treated. Extension work / H/W could be an activity which looks at how the factories affected people, which can be adapted to a piece of extended writing.
Re Discovering Britain 1750-1900 pp 26-27, New Worlds for Old pp 10-11

Lesson 5: Enquiry - How did the railways change Britain?

This is a short investigation into the arguments put forward in favour and against the development of the railways. The activity is based on designing a poster / placards to demonstrate these arguments (can be pairs /individuals). Alternatively these arguments can be delivered through activities based on the Liverpool - Manchester railway. Again the developments caused by the railways should be linked to the Key Enquiry, possibly through a discussion of who would use/benefit from the railways.
Re Discovering Britain 1750-1900 pp 68-71, New Worlds for Old pp 26-27

Lesson 6: Enquiry - What was it like to live in London in 1881?

This is another short investigation into living conditions based on the work of Charles Booth. Students should be able to recap previous work in yr 7 and 8 about housing/living conditions as a link to this topic. The activity asks students to imagine that they are researchers for the 1881 Census and extract the appropriate data from the available evidence.
Re Discovering Britain 1750-1900 pp 82-83

Lessons 7-8: Enquiry - Was Britain a fairer place to live by 1900?

The first lesson should focus on the problems with democracy in Britain in the 1820s and there is a paired role play activity that discusses the need for reform. Alternatively there is an activity based on designing a campaign in the style of 1830. The second lesson should focus on the life of women in the 19th century, with an emphasis on the limited changes that were introduced. This will be a useful precursor to the work on the campaign for women’s suffrage, and should also be linked to the Key Enquiry.
Re Discovering Britain 1750-1900 pp 88-89, New Worlds for Old pp 53-55

Lessons 9-10: Assessment - As a result of the changes between 1750 and 1900 did life get better or worse for the people of Britain?

Pupils need to produce a piece of assessed work (teacher and pupil evaluation) answering the Key enquiry. This should be structured/differentiated appropriately to allow all students to access and complete the task to the best of their ability. Students need to be encouraged to use the WIDEST range of examples to answer the question ie If writing an essay there should be paragraphs on each enquiry topic with a clear judgement made in the conclusion; if producing a powerpoint presentation there should be a slide for each topic and for the judgement/conclusion; the role play may be more limited BUT students must come to a judgement. Pupil evaluation is VITAL and should focus on how effective each individual/group uses evidence to support their judgement.
Until the lion has a historian of his own, the tale of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.

#5 JP Raud Dugal

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Posted 16 April 2004 - 01:03 PM

it offers unparalleled opportunities for cross-curricular education – banking and business, citizenship, religion and culture, in fact the whole P,E,S,C,R rainbow.

What about politics? In our curriculum IR is linked with the rising of ideologies/ Smith, Ricardo, Malthus, Marx, Proudhon etc etc

I have an example for you: the growing of the city of Manchester seen by Engels and Tocqueville. Usualy, the students enjoy to study that part because it's not too much political but they can easily understand the difference between the different visions of this world.


You have also an inquiry about Cadbury...Students love it! This one was created by a colleague in european class from Tours.

Talk later about your question about hating IR.

Jean Philippe

Edited by JP Raud Dugal, 16 April 2004 - 01:04 PM.

#6 alison denton

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Posted 18 April 2004 - 06:10 PM

When I redesigned my Scheme of Work for Britain 1750-1900, I decided to move away from the linear, chronological 'trudge' and set up an enquiry based approach, which I have cut and paste below - granted this does limit the content of the Industrial rev to 2 lessons, but the overall effect was much more positive and engaged the pupils alot more than my previous attempts:

Thanks for sharing that with us, Dan.

The question of what the department/ teacher wants the study of the IR to do within their scheme of work is fundamental - you have gone for an overview approach: the key question governing the whole study is a judgement about how much life had improved by 1900. That's great - the pupils know why they are learning about all this stuff.

It would be just as valid to focus on the results of the IR (like protests etc), or on any parts of it in depth rather than as an overview (just as Dale Banham advocates with King John - the overview lurking within the depth study), so long as the rationale behind such selection is agreed within the department (it makes sense in terms of the general coherence of the whole scheme for KS3, and in terms of what everyone considers essential for all the pupils to know/ understand) and is shared with the pupils.

The 'improvement in living standards' angle is one that several textbooks take. Some also ask the question: 'how close was Britian to revolution in the period 1800-1850?' I would argue that this is a poor question for an enquiry - I am always tempted to reply 'so what?. 'How close' isn't the fundamental issue. A more interesting question is why, despite being 'so close' to a revolution (apparently) Britain did not have actually have one, unlike most countries in Europe at that time.

So - for me, one of the most fundamental ways in which the IR can be made interesting for pupils is to spend time getting the question right. I'll post more when I get rid of my weekend visitors!

#7 alison denton

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Posted 23 April 2004 - 10:45 AM

WHAT CAN BE DONE TO PLAN A MOTIVATING STUDY OF THE I.R.?In my opinion a great part of the success of any lesson or series of lessons (on any topic) is the planning – the devil is in the detail!

· The series of lessons must have direction – an interesting question which invites pupils to find out more. Pupils should always therefore be aware of the purpose of their learning (to answer the overall question, in stages). So much the better if they can set their question themselves. Some of the best questions are in the form of puzzles or paradoxes, something which does not apparently make sense (eg.’if the average age of death in a town in 1840 was 18 yrs, why did so many people flock to live there?’)

· The question should have enough scope to provide a series of interesting lessons (many ‘enquiries’ that I see on schemes of work are in fact key questions for ONE lesson, and should be just a part of a different, bigger overarching enquiry). The question should allow for several different aspects to be investigated and weighed up

· The enquiry itself should not be black and white, but should be capable of generating debate and allowing the pupils to reach their own (slightly different) conclusions

· The enquiry should not ask for description, especially not by Y8-Y9. Questions of the order of ‘What was life like in an industrial town?’, ‘What was it like to work in a factory?’ are not good enough for an enquiry question (though they might drive one lesson). They do not ask for higher order skills such as selection, analysis and judgement let alone any other historical skills. Enquiry questions are the powerhouse of the scheme of work – the vehicle through which the knowledge, understanding and skills are delivered – they cannot just focus on knowledge

· The lessons within the enquiry should be carefully planned so that as well as gradually revealing a picture of the period to the pupils, bit by bit, they also build an overall answer to the central, driving enquiry question, bit by bit. It is like building a Lego house! Each lesson MUST therefore link to the previous one and the next in the series, AND must fulfil its role in the bigger picture of the enquiry answer. If any lessons are there simply ‘because the pupils like it’, THROW IT OUT! I call this the ‘Henry VIII’s wives’ syndrome (as I can’t see why anyone would study them – in isolation, other than ‘the kids like it …’ Do they?!). For an easy way to plan an enquiry to ensure these linkages, I have a diagrammatic planning sheet, which I’ll link to as soon as I can

· At the planning stage sufficient attention must also be paid to what the pupils will DO in the lessons (rather than what the teacher will do). A range of stimulating activities is needed, ensuring that across the enquiry as a whole all learning preferences are catered for. I have a useful checklist for this, which I’ll link to shortly.

· Crucially, time must be allocated carefully, so that the pace is brisk, but time is available to consolidate skills acquired by maybe using the principle skill the enquiry is delivering several times throughout the whole series of lessons, but in different contexts. Time must be devoted to adequate reflection, assessment and feedback at the end


Dr. Michael Riley included in his Teaching History article, ‘Into the KS3 History garden: choosing and planting your enquiry questions’ (TH 99, May 2000) a training activity derived from Christine Counsell, called ‘The Dodgy Questions Game’ on the Treaty of Versailles. The principles of it should be applied when framing any question to drive any enquiry:

Which of the questions below are distinctly ‘dodgy’ as a question to drive an enquiry?
- Which would lead to a purely descriptive answer?
- Which are too narrowly focused to make a worthwhile investigation?
- Which can simply be answered ‘yes’ or ‘no’?
- Which are encouraging children to use their 21st century prejudices to judge people in the nineteenth century?
- On the other hand, which have an immediate and rigorous link with historical skills/ key elements? (and which key elements?)

1. What was the industrial revolution?
2. Why is the industrial revolution significant today?
3. Why do historians disagree about the industrial revolution?
4. What caused the industrial revolution?
5. Why was Britain the first country to have an industrial revolution?
6. Brunel – was he really ‘the greatest Briton’?
7. Why did so many children work during the industrial revolution?
8. What were working conditions like for children in the nineteenth century?
9. Why did children suffer at work in the nineteenth century?
10. Did children suffer at work in the nineteenth century?
11. Did children always suffer at work in the nineteenth century?
12. Work for children in the nineteenth century – was it ‘child abuse’?
13. Why is it difficult to get a balanced picture of working conditions in the 19th century?
14. Why were bosses so cruel to their workers?
15. What made so many towns spring up in the early nineteenth century?
16. What was life like in an industrial town?
17. If living in a town could kill you, why did people rush to live there?
18. Why were industrial towns such dreadful places?
19. How can we find out about life in an industrial town?
20. Why was cholera such a big killer?
21. Did the industrial revolution lead to higher standards of living?
22. How did the industrial revolution change things?
23. Did the industrial revolution change things?
24. Was the industrial revolution all bad?

And so on (I haven’t attempted to cover all possible aspects of the IR here)
Now think of some of your own ‘dodgy’ and ‘not so dodgy’ questions!

So – for me the essential art of KS3 alchemy is in the planning. Get that right, and you have done as much as you can to ensure success.

#8 Dan Moorhouse

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Posted 24 April 2004 - 07:23 AM

I've found that pupils respond very well to activites that show the human side of the Industrial Revolution. I use the simulation outlined here to provide an introduction to the social impact of Industrialisation. Usually pupils find this approach very stimulating and ask many questions that lead to brief discussions about things such as Public Health, the Workhouses, Education, Inventions etc. It's successful because it doesn't simply list a range of inventions and churn out a pile of facts and figures, the pupils see how it affected people and can easily relate to that: much more effective if pictoral sources illustrating the locality at the time are around the room along with nice exceprts from reports (easy to do in run down inner city Bradford).

I provide a larger overview of technological advancement through use of a living timeline exercise. 30 inventions or events that changed the world. Pupils sort themselves into chronological order, attempt to explain the impact of the invention / event and then re-order themselves based on importance of the invention / event. Inclusion of the first public toilet and the granting of a patent for flushing lavatories ensures that the lesson will be fairly interesting.

Those two activities slot around source based enquiries into conditions in Bradford during the Industrial Revolution. We look at the way that the city developed and compare the 'gains' for people of different social backgrounds. Source material can be found that relates to roads adjoining the school, which provides a personal feel to the investigation.

#9 Richard Drew

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Posted 24 April 2004 - 11:25 AM

Which of the questions below are distinctly ‘dodgy’ as a question to drive an enquiry?

i'd say that most of them are dodgy enquiry questions - too basic, too vague, too value based or just too dull!!! having said that i know that these are questions that are used in many schools.

i think you are right to say that the correct question is vital.

i'd be happy with 2,3,5,11,19 to drive a full enquiry (significance, interpretations, causation, complexity of society, source analysis and evaluation.

none of the other questions would be expansive, rigorous and skills focused enough to be suitable to my mind.
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#10 alison denton

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Posted 24 April 2004 - 04:19 PM

In addition I think 13 could drive a 'mini-enquiry' and focus on source evaluation, and possibly 17 (cause/ effect)
but you are broadly right about the others.

I like Dan's inventions timeline and importance exercise. Teaching of the IR is so often all inventions or no inventions at all, yet I think we need to give pupils a sense of the impact the innovation of the era had.

#11 alison denton

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Posted 02 May 2004 - 09:25 PM

I hope the following can give you some ideas for interesting ways to teach the IR. There is plenty we do NOT teach - the experiences of the poor and workhouses for instance, and the ICT content is thin - because we don't have ICT availability on a regular and dependable basis (AT ALL!)

I can’t promise this makes the I.R. any more interesting really, but this is what we have taught this year, and it has for the most part worked well.
Obviously some of the activities and resources were differentiated to meet the needs of specific classes and individual pupils, but what worked particularly well was:
a) the mix of overview and depth in the three enquiry questions,
B) the focus on specific key elements of the N.C. in each enquiry question and assessment
c) the very clear reason for the learning throughout – all lessons linked obviously to the main question, and
d) the coverage of different learning styles in the activities in each series of lessons.

Essentially, enquiry 1 is about the causes of the I.R., enquiry 2 is about the effects of it, and enquiry 3 is an in depth investigation of an aspect (working conditions for children)

ENQUIRY 1: Why was Britain the first country in the world to have an industrial revolution?We do this at the end of Y8, so it is the last thing they do before Y9. Richard can fill in on the exact lessons and activities we do, as he designed them!

ENQUIRY 2: Why do historians disagree about whether the I.R. made Britain ‘great’?Pupils study a number of elements of the results of the I.R., across social, political and economic (you could of course cover cultural and religious as well). So, they are getting an idea about PESCR, and the entire thing is built around interpretations (key element of N.C.) as the enquiry question is driving it. The assessment is based on interpretations.

ENQUIRY 3: Did children always suffer at work in the nineteenth century?This repeats the form of an enquiry pupils study in Y7, and has two foci – the word always – everywhere? Throughout the whole 19th century? In every factory and mine? And allows pupils to investigate the topic through evidence which they evaluate (clear link to key elements). The assessment is source evaluation.

ENQUIRY 2: Why do historians disagree about whether the I.R. made Britain ‘great’?
Lesson 1: What do historians think about the I.R.?Pupils have the covers of several school textbooks on this period (Minds and Machines, Digging Deeper, Presenting the Past, New Worlds for Old – by some bloke called John D Clare????!!). Words/ titles have been removed.
In pairs they write a title for each one (makes them look at details) and suggest what each book is about. Feedback. Teacher reveals all books are about the same thing. Introduce enquiry question. Brainstorm what they think each historian’s view of I.R. is (good/ bad) and why they have chosen such different pictures for the covers. Introduction through this to PESCR history.

Lesson 2: What did the I.R. do for Britain’s wealth and standing in the world?ISM: pic of machine at the Great Exhibition. Brainstorm – what? Where? Why? Pupils nearly always say a factory. Second ISM – pic of stuffed elephant at Gt Exhibition – this was also there! Text and multiple choice questions on ‘the workshop of the world’ emphasising positive economic growth and wealth. Relate to overall question – how would an economic historian interpret the IR? Why?

Lesson 3: How ‘great’ was the Empire?
Pupils work in pairs. One half of the room has Minds and Machines p.100-101, the other half has p.102-3 but they don’t know they are different. In pairs they produce a programme title and summary for 3 TV programmes on the Empire, covering life for the people of the Empire, trade and standards of living, and culture and religion. In fours they compare their suggestions, and discuss why they disagreed. Feedback – bring out why historians interpret the same event differently, eg. look at different evidence, experiences of people in the same situations in the past is different, may be personally committed to missionary work etc. (Homework: design an Empire Plate to commemorate the Empire, giving a balanced view of it. They have a paper plate to do this on)

Lessons 4/5/6: What would social historians make of the IR?
Lesson 4: Pictures from memory – Gin Lane by Hogarth. Key question: how and why do representations like pictures differ from historians’ accounts? Based on activity from Thinking Through History ed Peter Fisher. Pupils in groups of 3 with A3 sheet of paper and a pencil each. Outside the classroom is a big copy of Gin Lane. One person from each group goes and views it for 20 seconds, then each group has to try to reproduce the picture they have seen. After a few minutes a second person from each group goes out, then a few minutes later the third person. 10 minutes to complete the picture (makes them look at details). Pin pics up – much hilarity. Serious point – why are their versions different? Why did Hogarth put the details in? Discussion of reliability/ value of this sort of representation/ interpretation.
Lesson 5/6: Investigation into conditions in Merthyr/ how and why do social historians interpret the IR? (it could be any town, but this is local for us).
ISM: Give pupils average life expectancy today. They guess average life expectancy in Merthyr in 1840. Reveal it was 18.2 years. Their job is to investigate why. First lesson they work on one aspect of life – housing, food, water, disease, sanitation or life in the town (entertainment) in small groups (3). They have a small number of sources, and they have to produce a poster and a short oral presentation saying why their aspect meant people died young – more than just describing it. Second lesson they make their presentations, and take notes while others do so. Homework: write a report – as an inspector sent to Merthyr in 1840 to find out why so many people die so young.

Lesson 7: was life in a town always this bad?ISM: spot the paradox: life expectancy plus growth of Merthyr figures. If life was this awful, why did people flock to towns? Compare to the countryside: picture of ‘idyllic’ country scene, pupils choose words to describe it. Short extract from Jude the Obscure read by teacher, pupils choose words again to describe this. Video of life in Merthyr (Day Return series) – pick out the good things about town life. Discussion – the views of social historians; discussion of why they often focus on the negatives. Homework: extract from Vile Victorians – is this a valid interpretation?

Lessons 8/9/10: Explaining the interpretations of political historiansWhat were the political results of the IR? Investigation of the voting system and its weaknesses in the early 19th century, and working class efforts to get representation (Merthyr Rising, Chartism). We do a ‘live’ newspaper production for Chartism, with newsflashes etc. on the Newport Rising 1839. Riots over conditions – Luddites, Rebecca Riots. Relate to overall enquiry – how and why would political historians interpret the IR?

Final lesson: reflection and assessment.
The assessment takes the form of a written response. Pupils have two conflicting historians’ interpretations of the IR and have to answer the overall enquiry question: Why do historians disagree about whether the industrial revolution made Britain ‘great’? using the sources given, and their own knowledge.

One aspect I would love to do is a kind of ‘Greatest Briton’ debate for a lesson and a homework with the children suggesting their own heroes/ heroines after a research homework, but we just did not have the time. You could go on as long as you want with this stuff really!

ENQUIRY 3: Did children always suffer at work in the nineteenth century?
Lesson 1: why was work so dangerous and unhappy for some children in the 19th century?ISM: Brahms lullaby. Children close eyes (yes – Y9!!) and think back to when they were 5/6 years old. Share – hopefully bring out happiness and play.
Show first 7-8 minutes of Timewatch on factory children (Peter Ustinov narrates it). A child chimney sweep is dug out of a wall, dead. Discussion – fair? Right? Why did so many children work?
In pairs – a picture sheet with children in various 19th century jobs. Tell the story of what is happening in each picture to their partner, in turns. Class discussion: what made work so dangerous and unhappy for these children?

Lessons 2/3: Why did so many children work in the ironworks and mines of South Wales in the 1840s? (local)
OHP of numbers of children working in various ironworks and mines in S. Wales.
Pupils interview the children who gave evidence to the Royal Commission in 1840 – some of the pupils take the role of interviewee, with the evidence actually given by specific children in 1840. They gather answers about pay, hours, conditions etc, then discuss and complete questions to make sense of their data. Homework: either a letter or a poster showing the jobs children did in the 19th century and why the work was so dangerous/ unhappy for them.

Lesson 4:How much did the work of children mean to a family budget?
Paradox: if work was so awful, why did so many children work? Numeracy lesson, where pupils work out how much a miner’s family spent each week, and on what (from figures in the Royal Commission’s report, a miner in Camarthenshire), and who earned what in the family. They should be able to deduce that children’s wages meant the family could eat meat. Interesting to compare with their own weekly family shop till receipt – all sorts of great stuff there. Incidentally – Kate Hammond presented a similar exercise at the SHP conference in Leeds and her material reaches the same conclusion.

Lesson 5: were conditions this bad for children in every factory and mine?
In pairs or groups, pupils study 3 sources – evidence of Charles Burns to the Sadler Commission, picture from ‘Adventures of Michael Armstrong, Factory boy’, and a report by a factory inspector. They have background information on each source, and have to produce a ‘source warning’ for each (essentially giving its strengths and weaknesses). Relate to key question. Homework: research factory reformers

Lesson 6: Were things this bad for children for the whole of the 19th century?Pupils have two ‘families’; one family works in a textiles factory, the other all in the mines. Each is husband, wife and 3 children aged 7-15. Using an OHP of the main factory and mine reforms of the 19th century, they fill in what the ‘working rules’ were for each member of each family in 1810, 1820, 1840, 1843, 1845, 1850, 1870, 1875. Plenary discussion: which reforms had the biggest impact on each family? Why? Why would some families be unhappy about the reforms? To what extent were children better off in 1900 than 1800?

Final lesson: reflection and assessmentBring it all together, then the assessment is 4 sources about working life for children in the 19th century. Pupils have been asked to bring only one to show their class what it was all like. Which would they choose and why? and why not the others?

We have only taught all this through once, like this, though it did go well, for the reasons I said earlier – particularly the clarity of direction in each lesson, and the appeal to different learning styles across the enquiries as a whole.

Any comments welcome!

#12 Aaron Evans

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Posted 11 May 2004 - 07:44 AM

Your suggestions on the work on Merthyr sound great - this example of an industrial town is ideal for teaching in Wales (such a shame there aren't as many well resourced towns up here in the north to use as examples).

Where can I find the evidence to the Royal Commission in 1840 for South Wales(from this I gather the details on 'how much a miner’s family spent each week, and on what , and who earned what in the family' can be found)?

#13 alison denton

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Posted 13 May 2004 - 05:10 PM

the book (and one on the iron industry) were published by the National Museum of Wales in 1972. (Museum schools Service)
The ISBN for the 'Children in the mines' one is:
0 7200 0023 8

I'll email you the page with the miners famil;y expenditure anyway.

#14 alison denton

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Posted 13 May 2004 - 05:13 PM

Forgot to mention - Stuart Broomfield and Euryn Madoc-Jones have written a new series of books on 'Turning Points in welsh History' which will have info. relevant to North Wales. due for publication any time now I think, not sure which publisher though.

#15 mr_hughes101



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Posted 29 October 2008 - 08:55 AM

Good Morning all,

Alison, do you have an electronic copy of Timewatch on factory children please and could you email me the financial info for the children please?

many many thanks,

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