from Mr Searle, Deputy Headmaster & Head of Seniors

‘History is bunk’. Or so thought Henry Ford, the maker of the first mass-produced automobile, in 1916. For those who have not come across the rather spirited term ‘bunk’ before, in this context, it is derived from the Dutch bunkum, meaning rubbish or nonsense. To be fair, Ford’s original comment was not quite so disparaging and it took a journalist to hack it down to these three words. Nonetheless, it is this assertion that is often quoted by people wishing to express their scepticism about the subject.

So, what’s the use of studying History? The answer is that History is inexorable. It studies the past, and the legacies of the past, in the present. Far from being a ‘dead’ subject, it connects things through time and encourages us to take a personal view of such connections. People are living histories: languages are inherited from the past; we live in societies with complex cultures, traditions and religions that have not been created overnight; we use technologies invented by others; and we are born with an inherited genetic template which has evolved during the entire lifespan of the human species. So comprehending the links between past and present is intrinsic to an understanding of being human. That, in a nutshell, is why History matters. It is not just useful, it is essential.

Pupils in the Senior Section of TN develop a number of key historical skills. These include understanding chronology; exploring and explaining the cause and consequence of events; learning how to analyse source material whilst considering the provenance of evidence in relation to reliability; and recounting events through engaging and informative narratives. Topics covered are varied but essentially revolve about the early modern period of the Tudor & Stuart Monarchs in Year 5; Georgian & Victorian Britain, and the Industrial Revolution, in Year 6; and the ISEB syllabus: ‘Medieval Realms, 1066-1485’, in Years 7&8.

Understandably, it is often the narrative histories which ignite the imaginations of the children. When given the freedom to present information through all manner of media, their results are entertaining, informative and quite often very humorous. There are many examples of their engagement but please take a few of minutes to watch the video below. It was produced by Edward, in Year 7, to tell the story of the Battle of Hastings, which took place on 14th October 1066. I am sure you will agree that nothing could be further from ‘bunk’ than this. Enjoy!


Rob Searle

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