Active History

Reputations – Year 8 get to grips with Oliver Cromwell

Investigating the topic ‘When and why did King’s lose control?’ using Hodder’s SHP Y8 text we dispatched Charles I (by a majority decision!) and plunged onwards to make our Royal Rollercoaster. Things got interesting when we got to Cromwell.  The first activity in the text alerted the pupils to the different views of Cromwell through the ages but to be honest it wasn’t that difficult for them to figure out what went where. The following discussion was lively and once we’d agreed on some factors that shaped reputations over time the next challenge was unveiled.

Each pupil was allocated a factor at random which they had to keep secret from their partner. They were tasked with writing a new biography/obituary for the Lord Protector. The challenge was that they could not make it too obvious what their angle was but had to provide enough clues to alert a careful historian. After some thought and a bit of revision from the double page on Cromwell from the earlier section (‘Put your ruler in the Hot Seat!’) they set to work.

When they had finished they swapped cards with their partners and each pair had to try and work out what their partner’s factor had been. In most cases the clues were sufficient and the secret factor uncovered. However there were some tricky examples which even foxed me!

The challenge of writing a very subtle biased description was fun but more importantly helped the pupils really see how and why reputations can change throughout history.