A History Manifesto

Having just been up to the SHP Conference in Leeds I felt inspired. I love history teaching but sometimes the external and internal pressures on the job (curriculum change, budget cuts, government initiatives…) mean I forget this.

When I forget this I like to remind myself why I do what I do. I return to my manifesto, a list of things that make a decent lesson. A prompt to make me return to the basic principles behind my job.

I’ve had a manifesto on my website for a while:

Draft 0

But following SHP I decided I’d tweak it. This is very obviously influenced directly by the SHP principles, which are a guiding light in history education but I wanted my own list. We each teach differently, in different scenarios and I wanted my manifesto to reflect my priorities. So on a very boring Geography field visit I got thinking. This produced Draft 2:

Draft 1

I put this on Twitter and following some cracking advice from @MilHums and @EduOfficerAnnie I tweaked it again with another draft. This one including enjoyable lessons and Annie’s idea about depth and breadth in terms of space as we wanted to include local history somewhere, something we are both fascinated by. Here’s Draft 3 following this advice.

Draft 3

Then I showed it to my department, who loved it and we tweaked it again, adding more about interpretations and separating enjoyable lessons for it’s own point. We also reworded quite a lot. This produced a lot more drafts and we thought we were done with Draft 8:

Draft 8

Then we thought again! We reworded a few bits and pieces and finally settled on this:

Manifesto Draft 9



What is the point of all this? We have new staff starting in the department in September and we wanted a document we could share with them to make it really clear what we strive for. We sadly talk about this kind of thing down the pub, a lot, and the drafting of this has been great, meaning we all share the same vision. We’ve talked about sharing it with kids, although I might tweak it to be something along the lines of a good historian strives for, but you get the idea.

A few people on Twitter have suggested they might make their department make a manifesto too. What a great idea. If you do please share it.