Cunning Plan 143: enquiries about the British empire

Teaching History journal feature

By Laura Fyson, published 21st June 2011

Showing students the complexities of constructing historical claims about the British empire

I wanted to give my Year 8 students ownership of their work on the British Empire by allowing them to suggest our ‘enquiry question'. In order to introduce the Empire, I brought in sugar, spices, bananas, chilli peppers and cotton. I then showed maps demonstrating the Empire at its height. Having already done some work on getting students to pose their own enquiry questions, students were able to suggest several. The one that caught my attention was, ‘What advantages did the British Empire have for people living in it?'. I decided that such an enquiry could include in-depth work on India while also allowing reflection on the British Empire in overview...

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