History A Level

historic image with men and a canon
Getting Ahead

History A Level at Alton Campus

Studying History enables you to develop a wide range of academic and intellectual (thinking) skills, many of which can be applied to other subjects and more importantly in helping you to try to understand what is happening in the world today. We shall concentrate in this set of tasks and activities on one key skill in particular, that of creating a convincing argument using skills of analysis to reach a balanced judgement.

The years of 2020 and 2021 have brought to the fore several controversial issues on which historians have been asked to comment:

  • How governments should cope with pandemics
  • The role and importance of the NHS and Social Care in British history, society and culture
  • How Black history should be addressed in schools, colleges and wider society and in particular through the media
  • The extent to which the past should be memorialised using statues.

It is this last issue (related to some of the others listed above) on which you are asked to focus, using the tasks and activities below.

a student holding up a history poster in class

Think about the following questions which have become very important over the past year.

  • Why do we have statues?
  • Should we have statues?
  • Why is there a debate about statues?
  • Can statues be fairly contextualised?
  • Who should have a statue and why?

The following tasks and activities will help you to come to some judgments about the role of statues in the cultural life and history of Britain.

 

Who is it and why is it contentious?

View the BBC News report here and any of the links below you may find helpful and then either write a short paragraph in your own words explaining what happened in Bristol on 7 June and why it happened OR explain to a member of your family (the dog or cat will do) what and why.

Read the following extracts from longer articles that argue different points about the fate of the statue.

  • The truth is that, for me, tearing down statues is something that should happen only in broken countries emerging from truly appalling regimes. Britain is not such a country. Those British citizens who pretend that it is, are doing themselves and their country no service. Of course we still have serious problems of prejudice and discrimination to deal with. But this is one of the most diverse and racially tolerant nations in the world. Why else would thousands of refugees and economic migrants risk their lives in tiny boats to escape from France and seek succour here?

 

  • As the totalitarian Soviet Union and its empire collapsed from within, statues of Stalin and of hated secret police chiefs were torn down, or officially removed and dumped in obscure parks. One of the first things Allied troops did in conquered Nazi Germany was to blow up or pull down the statues and monuments of Hitler’s regime. Symbols matter. But Britain citizens, black, brown or white, are not suffering under some foul racist regime. To allow this sort of vandalism to gain momentum is legitimising the notion that we are. And that is inviting more trouble. John Torode (https://www.thearticle.com/decline-and-fall)

 

  • The historical symmetry of this moment is poetic. A bronze effigy of an infamous and prolific slave trader dragged through the streets of a city built on the wealth of that trade, and then dumped, like the victims of the Middle Passage, into the water. Colston lies at the bottom of a harbour in which the ships of the triangular slave trade once moored, by the dockside on to which their cargoes were unloaded.

 

  • Today is the first full day since 1895 on which the effigy of a mass murderer does not cast its shadow over Bristol’s city centre. Those who lament the dawning of this day, and who are appalled by what happened on Sunday, need to ask themselves some difficult questions. Do they honestly believe that Bristol was a better place yesterday because the figure of a slave trader stood at its centre? Are they genuinely unable – even now – to understand why those descended from Colston’s victims have always regarded his statue as an outrage and for decades pleaded for its removal? David Olusoga

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/jun/08/edward-colston-statue-history-slave-trader-bristol-protest

https://www.bristolpost.co.uk/news/bristol-news/second-colston-statue-plaque-not-2682813

Identify an Opinion

  • Identify the overall opinion of each of the writers above.
  • What evidence does each one give to support their views.
  • Do the writers have any areas of agreement? (Fuller articles are in the links above)

Who Should Have a Statue and Why?

Below are some suggestions for statues – there are links below to give you some reasons why these women should have a statue.

  • Write a short paragraph as if you were starting a petition on Change UK or a similar platform for one of these women to have a statue – where might you suggest it is placed.
  • Once you have thought about this – who do you think should have a statue? You need to be able to justify your choice.

Read context and background to the statue debate: National Archives

Watch a lecture on the statue debate and historical legacy: Professor Justin Campion

*This is a representation of your learning space and may not be the exact room you will be using

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