Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

History - an Admirable Admiral?: Resources - Primary

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

History - an Admirable Admiral?: Resources - Primary

Article excerpt

Was Drake a hero or a villain? A role play helps pupils decide.

They say history is written by the victors, but acting it out can help children see both sides.

Role play with Year 4 can be a tense affair. Our dramatisation of Tudor punishments, which included beheadings, brandings, amputations and a cardboard pillory, nearly led to a prison-style riot. It was therefore a relief when, after some minor skirmishes over casting, Chloe (Queen Elizabeth I), with sword in hand, elected to knight rather than decapitate Ryan (Francis Drake). In 1581, an English monarch could do just about anything she bloody well wanted, and I could see how the young actress playing her might be tempted to rewrite history.

"Arise, Sir Francis Drake," she commanded, and one of England's foremost naval heroes, pausing only to pick his nose and wipe it on his Tudor waistcoat, did so and bowed graciously before his queen and his audience. Well, some of his audience, for the children had been divided into two groups, the English and the Spanish.

"So, what can you tell me about Sir Francis Drake?" I asked the English supporters.

They had researched their subject well. He was a famous sea captain and explorer ... He was born in Devon between 1540 and 1544 ... First went to sea in the 1550s ... Commanded his first ship in 1567 ... Defeated the Spanish Armada in 1588 ... Between 1577 and 1580 he became the first man to circumcise the globe ...

"I think you mean circumnavigate the globe, Paula. It means he sailed all the way round the world," I explained. …

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