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Lessons ready to learn from Domesday Reloaded

Alex Mansfield | 11:56 UK time, Friday, 3 June 2011

Article written by Anna Challand
Anna Challand

Anna Challand


Teaching consultant for Domesday Reloaded

When I was first asked to look at the material on the Domesday Reloaded site it was a historian's dream come true to discover an archive that had been left untouched for 25 years.

At first I looked up the details of my home town and where I live now which was fascinating. But as I did this the wealth of material that could be used in the classroom became abundantly clear.

To be able to teach the history of a period by examining material produced by children of their age is a unique opportunity for pupils and what made it all the more fascinating is that for many of the pupils in primary school today it was their parents who had completed the original Domesday research.

The material on the site however goes beyond just learning about the history of the 1980s, it enables pupils to develop a real understanding of both the change and continuity of the physical and social geography as well as cultural attitudes within the communities in which they live.

This site is truly addictive because it contains so much local history. There are articles about local customs that relate to events from making Halloween night lanterns from turnips to making Mayday garlands which create an atmosphere of familiarity while discussing specifically local traditions.

The descriptions of people's daily lives will give you a glimpse of a world less rushed where egg on toast is the most common breakfast for dads  and Weetabix is a child’s favourite breakfast.   Interviews with elderly residents provide glimpses of daily life and local history that go back to the 1880s.   As well as searching for places of interest you can search for articles on specific topics that can range from Oatcakes to Olympics.  

Moreover, as both a teacher and a parent it will now be possible for me to prove that I did not go to school in the Victorian era and was never evacuated due to the Blitz. My favourite story is the description of my junior school teacher's daily routine. I was amazed to discover that despite her professional approach to her lessons she still found time to play golf most days after school. This short extract highlighted the immense changes that have occurred in education since the 1980s more than any formal history of education and made both me and my daughter laugh at what would happen if I attempted to do any type of sport between collecting her from school and planning my lessons.

There are articles that relate to most areas of employment which highlight the differences and similarities between occupations in the 1980s and the 21st Century. One article that could have been written today was an interview with a local reporter who talked about the value of newspapers that could be read on the bus or the train unlike other media. The paper still survives although the debate over whether newsprint or digital media is best still continues.

If you look at the lesson plans you will see that we have put together a set of cross curricular lessons aimed at Key Stage 2  (but could also be adapted for use with KS1 and 3)  which we hope will enthuse teachers and pupils about the wonders of this project. It would be amazing if schools and local history groups could be use these as a starting point for creating a new history of their Domesday square so that the children of those in Key Stage 2 today could investigate the wonders of their lives in the future.

(Domesday Reloaded lesson plans and teachers' resources are now available at BBC Learning's Primary History site.)



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