St Peter's School
Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
- George Santayana
The Department of History has two main aims. Firstly, it seeks to promote an interest in the past. Pupils are introduced to various types of history - social, political, cultural etc. - and explore these through a variety of chronological, national, and global contexts. In so doing, the Department of History strives to create a stimulating environment with which to engage pupils of all abilities.
Secondly, the Department also aims challenge intellectually pupils of all abilities: it promotes academic rigour and critical thought as valuable ends in themselves. Furthermore, through extensive use of project work, the Department seeks to encourage intellectual curiosity in pupils, and hopes to engender in them the confidence to become effective independent learners
The one constant in the third year course is the study of the First World War. This topic seeks to provide a context for the GCSE course but does not replicate its content. The course raises issues such as the nature of patriotism, the use of propaganda and the role of the individual. It also introduces historical concepts such as causation. With the help of the school Archivist pupils study the impact of the war on the school community using artefacts from the period. Other modules taught have included: Modern American History; Modern Chinese History; Discovery and Exploration; the Space Race; and International Terrorism since 1969.
Pupils are encouraged to develop their own historical interests and during the year they will be asked to produce an independent study. The pupils are taught research skills by the Librarian and use these to investigate a topic of their choice (chosen from any period of history and on any aspect of history). They are expected to write an essay at the end of their research and the best piece is awarded the John Mitchell Prize for Lower School History.
Pupils study the Edexcel Modern World iGCSE specification. This covers aspects of the twentieth century with key elements being: Germany 1918 – 1945, Russia and the Soviet Union 1900 – 1953, and the Arab –Israeli conflict. As part of the course, pupils will touch on aspects of business and economics (how the stock market operates), political thought (communism vs capitalism), identity and belonging, and cultural history. It is an exciting and varied course in which pupils study some of mankind’s darkest periods as well as some of its greatest triumphs.
Pupils study the AQA specification in the sixth form largely because it enables us to teach from a wide range of periods. The topics that all pupils take are: The Tudors: England 1485 – 1603 and The American Dream: Reality and Illusion 1945 – 1980. In addition, pupils undertake one piece of coursework. This is a 3000 word essay based around the origins of the European witchcraze.
The Department also runs a senior History Society – the Alcuin Society. This provides pupils with a platform to present their own interests and research to peers. Recent talks have focussed on the Belgian Congo, the History of Silver, and Women during the Wars of the Roses. On occasion external speakers are invited in. The most recent guests of the Department were Dr John Cooper, who spoke about the subject of his latest book – Sir Francis Walsingham, and Dr Ailsa Mainman, who spoke about Anglian York.