Who's Round the Table?
Advanced level or degree level students often have difficulty remembering who was in a government or who a monarch’s key advisers were, which is scarcely surprising if they don’t know any of those interesting personal details that make individuals memorable. This activity may seem to take up time better spent on other things but it may save you a lot of time spent re-capping who was who in the long-run.
Set the group the task of recreating who’s round the Cabinet or Council table or other discussion venue. If you don’t have enough students bring in some stuffed toys – Noddy playing Gladstone will last long in the memory! If students can play the parts so much the better as it is likely to enhance their recall.
Their task is to:
- create name and job cards for all those in the cabinet, regime or whatever and place these round the table with the Prime Minister, King, Dictator etc at the head.
- the individuals must be placed in order of power and influence.
- the individuals must be researched and at least one interesting, memorable piece of information (if desperate go for his/her appearance) presented about each one.
- place an arrow by each person either pointing towards the head of the table or away from it to signify whether the individual is on the way up in his or her career or on the way down. This helps create continuity across a course of study rather than individual politicians suddenly appearing from nowhere.
Next session – get them to draw the table, maybe working in pairs, to see how much they remember.
This activity is particularly useful if, during a course, you need to look at key changes of personnel in a government and what impact those changes had. One such example is the transition of the Tories in the period 1815 to 1827 with major changes around 1821-22. This activity shows how individuals such as Peel and Huskisson did not suddenly appear from nowhere but moved up the table from lower-ranking posts.
Things to think about to evaluate and develop the activity:
- What was the impact of this activity on motivation to read and effectiveness of reading – and did they enjoy the activity? [discuss with students]
- Did this have an impact on the quality of discussion among students? If so, how and why and what can be learned from this?
- How often should a technique like this be used within an AS/A2 course?
- Did this technique make a long-term impact on knowledge and understanding?