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Humanities

When I was a child I loved Humanities, whether it was history and I was learning about ancient civilizations, intrepid explorers and brave soldiers going to war or in geography where I learned about foreign cultures and the amazing physical processes that shape our planet. I would sit mesmerised by my teachers and what they were telling me. I had an inquisitive mind and I just wanted to learn more so I started to ask my father lots of questions. Fortunately he was a patient man and before he became too exasperated by my constant questioning, he encouraged me to read. I soon started reading more and more and most of the films and TV programmes I watched were almost always linked to history and geography. With James Bond movies, I adored the exotic locations and with the Indiana Jones films, I loved the idea of discovering artefacts of great importance. When I was at school, teachers had few resources so it must have been hard for them to make the lessons interesting. I had a vivid imagination so for me picturing events from history in my mind was not difficult, but I guess for other students at school these subjects were just not for them. Everyone is different, some people like to follow instructions, others like to lead from the front. Some are bold and expressive, others lack confidence in their own abilities and are often not willing to share their opinions. For me, humanities is about people sharing ideas and information. Creating your own theories, being bold and not worrying too much about getting things wrong or making mistakes. This however may cause difficulties in terms of teaching in the 21st century.

History, Geography and Global Perspectives are not easy subjects for students. These are literacy heavy disciplines that require a lot of reading and for many students, this is made more difficult by the fact that they are not working in their native tongue. Words and meanings are often lost in translation. In addition, young people today blessed or cursed by living in the “Digital Age”. As a result they are usedto using slang and abbreviated English on a daily basis, terms like LOL, OMG LMAO have become the norm, why say something in three words when three letters or an emoji will do the same job.

Yet IGCSE Cambridge courses, especially humanities demand that students use detailed language to answer questions. Therefore it is essential that students are corrected in these areas. This doesn’t sound like fun! Who likes being corrected all the time or told that they must do better? Thankfully SES students are encouraged to improve in all aspects of their education, but are not chastised when they fall short. In addition, a variety of techniques and methods are used in order to ensure students can learn and have fun at the same time. This is definitely the case in humanities.

Empathy is key to success in these subjects, the ability to put yourself in the situation of others and feel what they must feel. In order to understand the past or deal with the problems we face in the world to day, an ability to empathize is crucial. Empathy is not something can be taught easily. It requires students to have an open mind, be willing to accept views and values that may be different to their own. It may cause them to challenge their own beliefs and cultural traditions. It also requires them to have a creative side and a large imagination. Thinking for yourself is not easy. There is often no safety net, often our ideas may appear foolish or misguided. There is not always a right or wrong answer, but to me that is the beauty of humanities, it allows us to debate and question what may be regarded as the truth. This notion is the core of humanities at SES, all opinions have merit; they just need to be based on logic, research and sound reasoning.

At SES we aim to immerse our students in the subjects we teach. This can vary from pretending to be William of Normandy planning to conquer Saxon England or Mussolini defending his actions to the League of Nations after invading Abyssinia. In Global Perspectives students may be asked to work together to create a charity than can give aid to countries suffering from drought, war or famine. Students are encouraged to write diaries, letters, newspaper articles as well as prepare speeches, TV news reports and radio broadcasts. Students at SES enjoy these activities: they certainly embrace the opportunity to be dramatic. Students are willing to dress up in costume and attempt a variety of accents, we even have students that can impersonate Donald Trump!

It is a pleasure to teach humanities at SES, mostly because of the positive attitude of the students. They welcome the opportunity to be creative, to attempt a variety of techniques and lesson styles. Their dedication to developing their skills makes them stand out from other schools I have worked in. The results are often enlightening, original and more often than not funny. I hope our students continue to embrace the variety of lessons they receive at SES and realize that with a little bit of imagination and an open mind, they can achieve so much.

From a year 10 Global Perspectives class, we were trying to work out how to solve problems by working together…Reynard seemed to be the major problem!

During a Year 10 Global Perspectives lesson, Victoria and Micah had to convince the rest of the class why Greta Thunberg should win the Nobel Peace Prize.

In Humanities, students are told to create a background that is linked to the topic, it helps the students feel part of history and more able to empathise. In this case Reynard is explaining to rest of the class what Hitler’s military aims were in the 1930’s. Chloe was having internet issues…that why we have someone from BTS in the class!

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