What is history? Much debate has surrounded this question but the American historian David McCullough defined it as, "History is who we are and why we are the way we are."
Without question, history is the study of the past and historians are required to be a little bit like detectives, studying evidence to try to ascertain what happened and why.
Some question the value of studying history and the novelist Wright Norris once argued that, “The past is useless. That explains why it is past." Yet there are many reasons why the study of history is of great value:
• History helps you to discover how your world evolved.
• History helps you to develop the skills to look beyond the headlines, to ask questions properly, and to express your own opinions.
• History trains your mind and teaches you how to think and process information.
• The pursuit of historical events and people is fun - a form of time travel.
• History helps you to make sense of many other subjects.
• A lack of historical knowledge prevents people from truly understanding the world in which they live.
• History helps you understand the origins of modern political and social problems.
• History lets you learn how and why people behaved as they did, whether they are Elizabeth I, Hitler or John Lennon.
• History makes you appreciate that people in the past were not just 'good' or 'bad', but motivated in complex and inconsistent ways, just like us.
• History provides you with the skills of analysis and evaluation that employers value.
Teaching in the history department is conducted through a range of activities which include debate, working with historical sources, dvd material and visits to places of historical significance such as battlefields of the First World War. During their time at the school pupils will have the opportunity to study history from the Middle Ages through to the era of the Second World War. Our lessons focus on the traditional skills of historical enquiry and using evidence but also communicating about the past through extended writing tasks and oral presentations.
History at GCSE and A-level is popular and we offer diverse courses enabling the girls to gain knowledge of, and experience, a wide range of historical periods including the French Revolution and American War of Independence. At GCSE we follow the OCR Modern World Study B comprising two written examination papers (75%) and a controlled assessment task (25%). At AS/A2 the AQA Specification and their study will include the loss of the American colonies 1754-1783, the French Revolution and the failure of absolutism. Girls also undertake an independent study based on Britain between1815 and 1915.