Maybe people reading this will smile at the memory of their own educational experience? Of course experiences are subjective, and education has changed with the times in living memory.

A group of school children have enjoyed a pre view of the forthcoming exhibition at the Cathedral recently, donning Viking clothing they took part in a ‘living history’ lesson. Locally, we have Beamish Living History Museum where the staff dress in period costumes to perform amid displays from yesteryear, we can ride on a tram, visit shops, enter a coal mine and enjoy so many features all of which teach history in a fresh way.

Having sat on a hard bench in the Victorian classroom with a writing slate upon my knee this writer’s attention was riveted by the swishy cane that hung at the teacher’s desk, a memory that runs very deep.

Due to a lot of gifted teachers and modern approaches to teaching that have gathered pace in recent years, leaving politics aside, this fresh momentum is wonderful. Long gone are the old style chalk and talk lessons that were dry as dust, and forgotten almost immediately. Now we have children able to play history, absorbing their lessons by a gentler fun approach and a more empathetic route. Dressing as Vikings is a great way to learn, the teachers seem to love taking part too, similarly visiting Beamish or a visit from school to any Museum to participate in living history is a lovely way to learn. Many youngsters, recently have had the opportunity to follow Major Tim Peake as he works aboard the International Space Station as it circles the planet. Major Tim is a great educator, he has taught school children as young as six about physics, astronomy, gravity, what he can eat in space, how he is able to sleep there and so much more.

What a time to be a school child? How exciting is life in school in the 21st Century and what a wonderful opportunity to learn? It bodes well for the children who will grow up to inhabit our world, the opportunities that they will enjoy are profoundly moving. How much better is the current situation than the days of chalk and talk, slate tablets and cold draughty schools with hard benches and swishy canes.

Thank heavens for progress.


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