Romans & Wolves
Formerly Romulus & Remus
This activity was devised by Tony Fox who teaches on Teeside. Tony felt that one basic difficulty in teaching about the Romans topic is that it seems so far removed from pupils’ own lives that they have difficulty understanding why the Romans were important or how they viewed their world. This one-off, introductory activity aims to give pupils some understanding as how and why Romans viewed themselves. It helps pupils to understand that the Romans saw themselves as powerful and strong, and saw the need to display this strength.
This activity is designed to reinforce students’ understanding of:
- how the Romans saw themselves as a powerful people
- how this sense of power was represented in images
Here is Tony’s description of the activity.
The activity is pretty straightforward to set up. Pupils should be issued with Worksheet 1, with the disguised picture on display.
It is important for surprise to ensure that pupils have not seen the completed picture until Worksheet 1 is completed. It is possible to use the Flipchart for ACTIVstudio, choose the Spotlight, and cover all of the picture bar the She-wolf’s head. An alternative could be to cover over a printed OHP.
Once the discussion surrounding this starter activity has finished, Worksheet 2 can be issued. The sheets are essentially a stimulus to discussion.
Pupils should be asked to complete Worksheet 1.
It could be interesting to discuss with pupils what they think it could be, this would help weaker pupils. I have found this type of activity useful when getting to know a class, early in the academic year.
Once pupils have completed their version of the picture, the real picture can be revealed. The amount of detail you want to go into will be at your discretion, but you should stress that Romulus and Remus are taking on the characteristics of a wolf through her milk. Discuss the characteristics of wolves with pupils, emphasising the qualities of strength, aggression, power, etc to help pupils understand why this symbol was chosen to represent Rome.
Pupils should then be able to tackle Worksheet 2. As this activity has a complex concept, pupils should be assisted towards their understanding. This activity is not designed for assessment but as a stimulating introduction, getting pupils to understand that Romans saw themselves as strong and powerful, like wolves. The Romulus and Remus legend could be covered in a following lesson.
As this activity is discussion-based, the discussion can flow into the debriefing. It is important to ensure that pupils understand that Romans emphasised the positive characteristics of wolves, and saw themselves and their City as the expression of these characteristics. Higher ability pupils will be able to show how these characteristics shaped Roman political thought. I found that a number of lower ability pupils struggled with the concept, but used the other pupils to assist their understanding, getting pupils to repeat good clear points, and praising good discussion methods. The lesson worked well as an introduction for Year 7’s to secondary historical discussion, enabling me to reinforce rules of historical discussion, but also to allow pupils to feel free to express their ideas.
Notes & Variations
1. The complete a picture activity is used widely to stimulate thought and discussion, I have always found it useful in lightening the atmosphere, and getting the pupils to see it as a fun way of stimulating thought and discussion, thus this idea can be used in a range of topics
2. There is a short film clip from www.britishPathe.com showing a copy of the statue sent to America by Mussolini, which could enable KS5 pupils to explain which characteristics Mussolini wanted to portray.