Lessons from History
Behind the Study Door
“All societies draw on memories that extend further back than the lifetime of its present-day members. The more remote past is not confined to history books and archives; it is present also in popular consciousness” - The Pursuit of History, John Tosh
History plays a part in two events that we are holding next week: our Armistice Day Assembly on Friday, and the Year 7 and 8 Conference on Tuesday based on the film, ‘Hidden Figures’, set at NASA during the Cold War. I shall write about the significance of Remembrance next Friday, but as you know next Sunday, 11 November marks 100 years to the day since World War I ended. On Friday, 9 November, we will mark Armistice Day with our annual Assembly and Act of Remembrance, not only recognising the sacrifice made by millions of people across the world in past and present conflict, but reflecting on the events of November 1918 that brought the first of two world wars in a century to an end.
On Tuesday, 6 November, our Year 7s will take part in a conference, supported by Abertay University, reflecting on powerful themes that emerge from the film ‘Hidden Figures’. Set at the height of the Space Race, the film captures the plight of three women working at NASA, and at the backdrop of racial and gender prejudices, the significant role they played as scientists.
Having partly read History at university, I remain a very interested in the subject, in part influenced by an outstanding teacher I had during my A Level course. A quick glance at the bookshelf in my study would reveal one of my interests being Napoleon, who whilst being a brilliant military strategist and famed for modernising France, might not be an appropriate influence for the young people of today. The same goes for books on a collection of 20th Century dictators, now hidden from view by my Roald Dahl collection, who formed part of my degree course.
There is, however, one book that I have that I would recommend wholeheartedly to all our children. Written in 1905 by H.E. Marshall, ‘Our Island Story’ is a narrative that documents the history of Britain in chronological order. From the first Roman invasion of Britain in 55BC to the reign of Victoria, the book brings history to life for children, takes them into a world of imagination and affords them the opportunity to understand how transformational events in our history link together. At the very least, it will also set them up very well for future pub quizzes!
We are preparing children for a world of opportunity and challenge, and in order to be able to have a deep understanding of this, I think an awareness of kings and queens, archeology through the ages, the Crusades and Holy Wars, the role the Ancient Greeks played in shaping our society today, American and African History, the Cold War, history relating to different cultures and societies, to name a few, is such an important basis of knowledge to satisfy the immense curiosity our children have. Marcus Jarvey summed this up perfectly by stating:
"A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots."
I really do urge our children to develop an interest in history. Whatever their chosen paths in life, I have no doubt that an understanding of past events - whether it be triumphs, mistakes and blunders, influencers and some of the more obscure figures from history - will make a small, but not insignificant, contribution to shaping their lives and wider contribution to society. Some of you may have listened to a recent episode of ‘Desert Island Discs’, during which Sir Venki Ramakrishnan, President of the Royal Society’ said “The reality is that the world is changing very rapidly and the best way to cope with these changes is if we have a very broad foundation. I believe that all science students should learn history, should learn languages and I believe that humanities students should also learn a certain amount of science all the way through school”.
Wishing all St Leonards families a happy weekend, wherever your adventures take you.
WELCOME BACK | It has been brilliant to see all the smiling faces around the school grounds again after our Half Term break. We hope everyone enjoyed a relaxing holiday, ready for a busy second half of Autumn Term, complete with concerts, the Lower School Nativity Play, Christmas Fair and, of course, this evening's much-anticipated PA Pumpkin Party!
CHARITY CHOP | Evie in Year 4 headed to the hairdresser's during Half Term, where she had her long locks cut to be donated to the Little Princess Trust, which creates real wigs for children who have lost their hair through cancer treatment and other illnesses.
So far, Evie has raised more than £1000 for the charity, with donations still coming in. Well done Evie for showing such brilliant support for a worthwhile cause!
A Visit from Dr Rhodes
A VISIT FROM DR RHODES | Year 3 were lucky enough to have a visit from Dr Rhodes on Tuesday afternoon, when she came to talk to the children about the building of St Andrews Cathedral. Dr Rhodes had been involved with the Pageant back in July, which was organised to celebrate the 700th anniversary of the cathedral.
Dr Rhodes showed the class a PowerPoint presentation with recreations showing what the cathedral would have looked like when it was first built. Everyone found it fascinating!
She then took the children through the ceremony that would have taken place when the cathedral was dedicated, with Bishop Lamberton, King Robert the Bruce, and the Earl of Fife, as well as other bishops, lords and ladies. The children thoroughly enjoyed reenacting the occasion.
Other fascinating facts were that St Leonards is actually in the original grounds of the cathedral, and our all-weather pitch was once a tennis court. Mentone was once a sunken garden with a watermill on it, with water diverted there from the Lade Braes.
Thank you to Dr Rhodes for finding the time to come and talk to Year 3 to round off their Unit of Inquiry!