The website is for ‘bits and pieces’ that I was unable to fit into the book, or for things that became available after the book was sent to the publishers.
John Cleese on why he would like to play the part of Claudius in Hamlet (Guardian, 31 January, 1997)
“Why? Because my theory is that’s what Hamlet is about; not this introspective little ****** whingeing on about his personal problem, but about the guy who is trying to run the ******* country, trying to keep the Norwegians out. I should love to play him as this high powered executive who just can’t stand Hamlet.”
Whereas most secondary pupils are or become aware that there are different ways of “reading” a play, I am less sure that they are aware that there are different ways of “reading” history. As the research of Lee, Ashby and Dickinson has pointed out, for some pupils, the past is simply “what happened”, and that historical sources are a true and unproblematic record of the past: “Many stories are told, and they may contradict, compete with or complement one another, but this means that students should be equipped to deal with such relationships, not that any old story will do…… students who understand sources as information about the past are helpless when confronted by contradictory sources.” (Lee and Ashby, 2000, Progression in historical understanding, 7-14, in P. Seixas, P. Stearns and S. Wineburg, Teaching, Knowing and Learning history, New York, New York University Press).
This ties in with the requirement that pupils should be taught to ‘understand the methods of historical enquiry, including how evidence is used rigorously to make historical claims, and discern how and why contrasting arguments and interpretations of the past have been constructed’ (DfE, 2013: 1).