What can rituals reveal about power in the medieval world? Teaching Year 7 pupils to apply interdisciplinary approaches

Teaching History article

By Dhwani Patel, published 4th October 2021

Popes, processions, and the populus Romanus

Much has been written in recent years about how historical scholarship can be used to shape practice in the classroom. As an historian of the medieval period now working as an history teacher, Dhwani Patel offers a fresh perspective on these debates. During her PGCE year, Patel found herself reflecting on how the lenses and methodologies that shaped her own practice as an historian could help her tackle the weaknesses she identified in her Year 7 pupils’ understanding of how power functioned in the medieval period. In this article she shows how she drew on her research to plan an enquiry exploring the importance of rituals in establishing political authority, and evaluates the potential of using cultural history to build more secure, nuanced understandings of political history.

In 2018 the Historical Association produced a resource entitled ‘Exploring and Teaching Medieval History in Schools’. The publication aimed to ‘help students build a more representative picture of the period, one respecting the complexity and sophistication of the ideals and thoughts of the people and the extent of change taking place across these centuries...

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