Why History? | Through the eyes of a Trainee Teacher

reading time 3 minutes 25s

Whilst visiting Harlech Castle, Wales, at the age of 12 I looked up at the castle and wondered what the very narrow windows were for.

After walking around the site and finding an information board, I soon discovered that these were in fact ‘loopholes’.

After further investigation, I discovered that these holes were built especially to shoot arrows from, whilst keeping the shooter themselves fairly shielded from returning fire.

Since that discovery, my passion for History grew and when my younger brother started to ask similar questions and I was able to answer and explain them to him (which is when my passion for teaching also began to flower, I think!)

My first experience of teaching was during my time at Sea Cadets where I taught small groups of cadets, usually around 3-5 at a time, basic seamanship, stewardship and drill.

During my A-levels I was part of a teaching support programme, helping the history teacher teach GCSE classes. Through my University studies, I volunteered as part of an aspirational mentoring programme working with pupils at Ysgol Uwchradd Caergybi to stay in education and complete their GCSEs. I also helped to teach specific techniques and skills in the Uni Jiu Jitsu club.

I pursued my passion for History, by continuing my studies, completing a Masters at Bangor University, graduating in June 2016 (after writing two dissertations, one on Edward I and his Scottish campaigns from 1297-1307, and the other on William of Newburgh and the Historia rerum Anglicarum). This second master’s level dissertation led me to the beginning of my currently ongoing part time PhD, researching more thoroughly William of Newburgh and his Historia.

I am inspired by History – and love to study Henry II, the first Plantagenet king, and his family.

Henry himself controlled the biggest empire since Charlemagne and was a formidable opponent, but you could argue that if it wasn’t for his dysfunctional family he could have become more and so could his heirs. (Oh, and I don’t love all areas of History…particularly modern British politics, quite possibly due to Andrew Marr’s documentary on the subject.)

This combination of a love of History and a passion for teaching others, brought me to where I am now – training to teach History!

Whilst I am currently still pursuing my passion for History with my PhD, I am now aiming to fulfill my dream of teaching others, so that when a child looks up at a castle, sees a funny looking window and asks ‘what is it?’ – I can inspire them in the same way I was inspired.

I was recently asked “what would your history teacher would have said about you?’ and I am extremely proud to be able to quote his words directly from the reference he gave for my Uni application:

In 15 years of teaching, I have never taught anyone with such a genuine love for a subject as Kate has for History….she has a subject overview which would put many teachers to shame. Underpinning this is a genuine desire to appreciate the factors which shape the world around her. In addition to her subject knowledge, she demonstrated skills which have paved the way for her success at AS History, and it is this combination of enthusiasm and impressive and advanced skills which made her ideally suited to her degree course of History. 

(Mr Larkin, St. Augustine’s High School, 2012).

Ms K Sims
Trainee Teacher of History