Duffy's devices: teaching Year 13 to read and write


By Rachel Ward, published 31st August 2006

Rachel Ward’s intriguing title seems a little out of place in an edition on teaching the most able. The point she makes, though, is that even our very brightest post-16 students need to be encouraged both to engage with the historiography surrounding their course and to learn to write with the ‘awareness of style’ needed for the very highest marks. These things do not happen by accident. Rachel explains how she has used some of Christine Counsell’s ideas, and her own A Level knowledge, to construct a meaningful rationale for using the work of a real historian in the classroom. She uses Eamon Duffy’s work on the religious settlement following the Reformation to help students to engage with historiographical trends, and to give them the critical filters they need when dealing with anyone’s précis of another historian’s work. She also uses him as an example of good practice, bringing home to her students how precisely they can become good stylists. She shows how the least able in her class can benefit from work such as this which is explicitly devised to stretch the most able. And, finally, she challenges us – how can the rest of their experience of school history be tailored with this kind of learning in mind for students when they reach Year 13? This theme will be explored in our discussion of how to use this article in a CPD context.

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