History off the Page - Tuesday 11th September.
Those of us whose education took place in the 50s and even earlier were denied the treats available to present day pupils as described by Foxearth resident Sheena Shaw to the Society on Tuesday 11th September.
“History off the Page” is an enterprise established 16 years ago that brings workshops into schools by providing activity days based upon a wide range of historical periods and events. Sheena began by explaining how, by working with up to 90 children – depending on the Key stage – practical history could be taught through experience. The earliest of a large numbers of depictions provided by the company is of Egypt at the time of the Pharaohs. Herbs and wax are used to make the sort of artefacts that would have been put into tombs; ink for writing upon actual papyrus is created from ground charcoal. With the materials brought along by Sheena, members were able do these things for themselves and “become Egyptians” for the evening. We even had “slaves” to make the tea and coffee!
Other presentations are of Greece in 490BC as children prepare for the battle of Marathon and make gifts for the gods. There is a Roman day where the emphasis is on commerce and bartering and culminating in a reclining banquet: in fact all the workshops end with a suitably themed feast. Other days build upon Saxon, Tudor, World War 2, Great Fire of London and Coronation events and the company also explore the Florence Nightingale story, the seaside, castles and the history of Toys. In the Victorian day children get a taste of what teaching was like then with the hand inspections, making their own exercise books and reciting their tables. This extensive programme of activities is carried out by a team of experienced teachers who each year visit over 1,000 schools and who involve local teaching staff and parents in the “hands-on” experience which is fun for all. Children are encouraged to dress appropriate to the period to add to the sense of realism.
This was a truly fascinating talk which ended with Sheena ably demonstrating her early training for the stage by recounting -in candle-light - a ghost story transporting the 16 Society members to a country inn on a dark night in the middle of a snowy winter ;it left us with a slight touch of the shivers! Sheena was warmly thanked by Chairman Alan Fitch for her contribution to a most entertaining evening.
Next meeting: Tuesday 9th October at 8pm in Foxearth Village Hall whern Horry Parsons will talk about Bury St Edmunds cathedral.