2017-12-13 07.11.10The last session of teaching before Christmas on the Liverpool Hope Twentieth Century Europe course at Holy Cross College in Bury was on the Cold War.  It’s an interesting topic, and one of the primary sources set for the students to study is an extract from Churchill’s Iron Curtain speech, delivered on 5 March 1946 at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri.

I was looking for something a bit different to do with the students to get them to think and talk about some of the issues that worried the west after the Second World War – their distrust of what was going on in Eastern Europe in particular.  I decided to print out a copy of the source which was split into short sections, and ask the students to identify the different themes.  Next, they were to sort the slips of paper into those themes and then try to recreate a speech from the short sections.

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This is a very small class, with only 6 students, and one of the advantages of the task was that it made them talk about the themes and issues Churchill raised without me having to prompt and ask questions all the time.  It took the pressure of the spotlight off them, as they weren’t answering direct questions but talking amongst themselves.  It also made them think about how the ideas linked together.  Most importantly, they were on their feet, actively learning, rather than just sitting passively listening.

2017-12-12 19.15.23As it was the last session before the Christmas vacation, we brought along some supper to share, and one of the students had made each member of the class a personalised Christmas decoration based on the famous First World War recruiting poster of Lord Kitchener (There are moments when I love my job!).   Over the previous few weeks, the students had been completing an assignment on analysing the display of a museum artefact, and one of them brought along a replica of the suffragette Pank-a-Squith board game that he had researched.  It was something I’ve heard a lot about over the last few years – it seems to have an eternal fascination for students – so it was nice to see it in the flesh, so to speak.  Sadly, we didn’t have time to try it out!