Getting Year 7 to vocalise responses to the murder of Thomas Becket

Teaching History article

By Mary Partridge, published 21st June 2011

A ‘surprising shock' in the cathedral: getting Year 7 to vocalise responses to the murder of Thomas Becket

Mary Partridge wanted her pupils not only to become more aware of competing and contrasting voices in the past, but to understand  how historians orchestrate those voices. Using Edward Grim's eye-witness account of Thomas Becket's murder, her Year 7 pupils explored nuances in the word ‘shocking' as a way of distinguishing the responses of different people in different settings and at different times.

Reflection on whether the murder was seen as ‘shocking-surprising', ‘shocking-outrageous' or ‘shockingdisgusting' became a tool for examining varied viewpoints. Pupils thus began to explore the process by which historians deploy and manipulate the voices of other people. At times, the writing process itself helped pupils to discover or understand further voices. In this self-critical evaluation of her enquiry, Partridge also considers issues for further development: how do we get pupils to harmonise these voices, to move confidently from voice to voice, to pit these voices against each other and to communicate all this skilfully to a reader?...

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