‘I know this stuff is old because it’s mostly all grey…’ – Archives & Year 2s

With our Heritage Lottery funded project, New Perspectives, we are taking the archives on the road and into London schools.  Using the collection of the National Union of Women Teachers (NUWT), free workshops are offered to classes to explore social history through the archives.  Here is a quick update on how our school sessions have been going (and follow more of our archive learning adventures on our blog & twitter @NUWT_Archive)…

This past week was our first foray into working with Key Stage 1; our ‘Clever Campaigners’ workshop was delivered over two days to a Year 2 class in Camden.  Before focusing on the collection and campaigning, we considered just what an archive is, and the students compiled their own class archive.

The pupils have been busy learning about the civil rights movement as a part of Black History Month, so we linked the NUWT’s campaign for equal pay to extend their study of campaigning and equal rights.  We explored different campaigns (from civil rights to McDonald’s to Anti-Smoking to Recycling) as the students debated what the goal of each campaign was.

Armed with their white gloves, and with great care, the Year 2s explore the NUWT’s ‘The Woman Teacher’ publications.

After they had time to explore the visual, verbal and written campaign strategies of the NUWT, the students then got busy creating their own campaign.  Following a very democratic class vote, they decided to create an environmental campaign.  The students designed ephemera encouraging others to take care of their planet by recycling, walking instead of driving, and to stop smoking.  With their carefully designed badges and posters, they then went on an enthused environmental march around the school.

Future campaign designers.

The students’ care, attention to detail, and genuine curiosity of the archives reinforced the valuable role primary sources can play in early years learning.  Upon investigating a newspaper clipping of Mrs. Bale (former NUWT president) speaking at an equal pay demonstration in Trafalgar Square, a pupil came up to me, document in hand; he pointed to the photo’s caption, and patiently explained:

‘this newspaper article says Mrs. Bale talked yesterday… but I know they mean yesterday a long time ago because on the back it says it came from 1940…

… Plus, they’re all wearing silly hats!’

Mrs. Bale and some impressive hats. Another pupil immediately spotted the lion and wisely pointed out that she was in Trafalgar Square, and… ‘with all that space for people, what a good place for a big meeting!’ (document reference: UWT/D/38/1)

Thanks to Ms. Albrecht and her lovely class of year 2s (otherwise known as the Polar Bears) for having us visit!

If you are intersted in archive workshops for your group (from Key Stages 1-4; adult education; informal learning; etc), check out our autumn schools programme here, and email alexandra.hall@ioe.ac.uk for more information / to make a booking.

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