Year 7 challenge stereotypes about the Mexica

Teaching History article

By Niamh Jennings, published 11th January 2024

‘If we’ve been getting their name wrong, how else have they been misrepresented?’

After discussing a new book about the Mexica (Aztecs) during a routine meeting with a trainee teacher, Niamh Jennings decided to construct a sequence of lessons around the history of the Mexica Empire. Struck by the vivid storytelling of historian Camilla Townsend in her book Fifth Sun, and fascinated by the way in which Townsend challenges simplistic stereotypes about the ‘brutal’ Mexica people, Jennings decided to use extracts from Townsend’s scholarship in order to show her pupils how historians can use new sources to recentre a narrative towards a colonised people. After analysing her pupils’ responses to her new enquiry, Jennings reflected on her efforts to build pupils’ awareness about how historical silences come to be created, and how they can be challenged...

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