We’re now finishing our Middle Ages block and it has been really fantastic.
Class 6 & 7 have spent the last four weeks studying the Middle Ages (which has included a study of the basic tenets of Islam). This main lesson has enabled the children not only the opportunity to grow their understanding of causality in history, but they have also seen how specific men and women in history have come to the fore, embodying particular groups of people. Indeed, reflective of an adolescent’s desire for biographical stories (of substance no less!), the curriculum provides in abundance: Charlemagne and Joan of Arc are but two such examples.
The Middle Ages began with the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the Fifth Century AD. Germanic tribes swept through Europe under pressure from the advance of Atilla the Hun and his people. A period of considerable political and cultural change began; Christianity was on the rise, carried along the criss-crossed network of Roman roads left after the Empire was gone. Gradually the pagan Germanic tribes – like the Angles, Saxons, Goths and many others – turned towards this new religion. Feudalism was born, with the Church at the top, and below it: kings, nobility, knights and peasants. And, far to the south-east, a man named Muhammad had transformed the Arabian Peninsula with the birth of Islam.
Our studies have also been supplemented and deepened with a range of practical crafts and activities.
The children have learnt to write with a calligraphy pen, and produce fine illuminations with gold-leafed designs, as if they were scribes from the great monasteries of old. They have begun learning to juggle perhaps like the jesters of the medieval age, and they have enjoyed participating in our own class tournament as knights might once have done, with some hilarious piggy-back jousting and archery.