Perhaps it is a mistake to put a picture of Neville Chamberlain next to this word. Covering the topic of the 1938 Munich Crisis is usually/often the main context on which students encounter this concept, and in the popular media and the statements of many politicians, it is often equated with cowardice, giving in, weakness, so pupils may think that appeasement is necessarily ‘a bad thing’ or a stupid policy. So as well as explaining appeasement as it operated in 1938, it can be helpful to explain to pupils that appeasement can sometimes be done intelligently and with benefits to both parties in a dispute (A.J.P Taylor mentions the Belgian Crisis of 1831-2 as one such example). In a conversation with our history PGCE students when I was at the London Institute of Education, Martin Gilbert made the point that if there was never any use of the strategy of appeasement, there would be an awful lot of wars and conflicts. Anyway… some resources which might be of use or interest….
For GCSE and A level pupils, getting then to study differing reviews of new texts/films/programmes about a historical issue or person can be a good way of teaching them about interpretations.
There is an interesting contrast between Susan Pederson’s 2019 review of Tim Bouverie’s book Appeasing Hitler (The Guardian, 5 April 2019), which is quite critical of Chamberlain as vain, deluded, narrow and inflexible, and the much more sympathetic treatment of ‘tragic hero’ Chamberlain in the more recent film about the Munich Crisis, based on Robert Harris’s book about Chamberlain (see ‘The myth of Munich;, Alex von Tunzelmann, The Guardian, 15 December 2021).
As always with using newspaper articles, they can be deployed in different ways, depending on the keenness and reading ability of the class in question (and on whether you prefer to explain the differences between the two reviews yourself or get the pupils to read through and annotate the articles). They can also be used as homework options, or as I tentatively suggest in the book, as a voluntary piece of reading for any pupil who is interested in the topic, sometimes painting it as a ‘difficulty challenge’ to extend their ability and willingness to read pieces of prose that are longer, and have more depth, than the textbook provides. If you are taking the option of explaining the 2 reviews to a class, it can be helpful to take a ‘snip’ of the headline and photo of the two articles using the snipping tool, as a graphic to supplement your oral explanation.