Enquiries

WHAT ARE ENQUIRIES?

Our historical enquiries are:
Sequences of lessons, usually amounting to five or six hours of learning, based on a core historical puzzle that will take that length of time to be resolved. There is a single enquiry question that both embodies the puzzle and sustains interest and engagement for the learning journey. Students study a range of primary sources and historical interpretations to build an answer to the question. Each lesson would typically have its own key question to frame the learning. The best enquiries will involve a good deal of classroom dialogue, both in small groups and as a whole class, with the teacher engaged in that dialogue principally through questioning.

How do we approach these historical enquiries?

Dialogue will be key as students explore ideas about sources and interpretations. We aim to develop talk in your classroom so that students usually begin their thinking about a puzzle or source by talking in a small group. The feedback from those groups can then be the springboard for a whole-class discussion about the subject. It’s those discussions that help to build the framework of new knowledge that students will record in their books.

Questioning needs to encourage students to work out ideas for themselves, in a form of Socratic dialogue. We have thought about the questions we ask in relation to the key sources chosen for the enquiry. Each source will be the driving force for a lesson, but we also give students access to background contextual knowledge. This can often be done through a well-chosen video clip or a passage from a quality textbook.

Access the enquiries here:

Apartheid and South Africa: Why did Beyers Naude break rank from his church in 1963?

The history of Apartheid in South Africa.  This enquiry attempts to approach the topic in a radically different way, with a focus on lesser-known characters, rather than the heroic Mandela and villainous Verwoerd, although the latter plays a part in it.  The key figures are Robert Sobukwe, an African nationalist, and the Rev. Beyers Naude, an Afrikaner church minister.

Download South Africa Apartheid Enquiry

Dark Continent Africa: How ‘dark’ was the story of Africa before 1900?

Historians’ interpretations of African history through the centuries, particularly Western historians and the ideas of the 19th century ‘Dark Continent’ theories. The enquiry focuses particularly on the ancient civilisations of Southern Africa at Mapungubwe and Zimbabwe.

Download Dark Continent Africa Enquiry

The American Civil Rights Movement: Why has Robert F. Williams been forgotten?

The history of the African-American Civil Rights Movement. Rather than pursue the history of this vital part of twentieth century American history through the traditional narrative of ‘Martin Luther King and Malcolm X’ Justice to History chose to enquire into the story of one neglected figure: Robert Franklin Williams, who, despite Rosa Parks’ pleas at his funeral, has been largely forgotten. It is an enquiry about historical interpretations as well as about the socio-political history of the postwar American South.

Download Robert F Williams CR Enquiry

Timbuktu: How was there so much learning at the ‘end of the earth’?

The history of Timbuktu in West Africa. The focus is on how rich the history and civilization of an African city could be, despite its label as ‘mysterious and dangerous’ by the West. The spread and influence of Islam in Africa is a major feature of this enquiry.

Download Timbuktu End of the Earth Enquiry

Slavery: How far did New World Slavery turn Africans into Negroes?

The history of New World Slavery and the Transatlantic Trade. The focus of the enquiry is on the ways in which this particular form of slavery was unique and structured around race. Although economic aspects of trading are featured at times, the enquiry is essentially social and political. The construction of race is central and political, and the enquiry begins with contemporary concerns about racial profiling before going back to the Middle Ages and the positive African figure of Saint Maurice. The approach of this enquiry is very different from the conventional classroom approach to this history.

Download Slavery Enquiry