“The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting” – Milan Kundera, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting
Welcome to the Chesterhouse History department. We aim to provide pupils with stimulating, dynamic lessons which foster reflective engagement with both the past and the present.
We do not learn History in our classes; we do History. In developing the analytical understanding of our budding historians, we place a heavy emphasis on the skills of writing and interpretation. Guided by the intellectually stimulating Cambridge International curriculum, our objectives are wholly aligned with the syllabus:
• to stimulate interest in and enthusiasm about the past
• to promote the acquisition of knowledge and understanding of human activity in the past
• to ensure that the candidates’ knowledge is rooted in an understanding of the nature and use of historical evidence
• to promote an understanding of the nature of cause and consequence, continuity and change, and similarity and difference
• to provide a sound basis for further study and the pursuit of personal interest
• to encourage international understanding
• to encourage the development of linguistic and communication skills
Moreover, given the frequently fractured and divisive history that has shaped present-day South Africa, we also focus on questioning prejudice, interrogating stereotypes and studying human rights abuses such that our pupils have the courage to challenge injustice in our society. One cannot divorce the present from the past, and many recent wars – civil or otherwise – have their roots in decades or centuries past. Thus, in the open environment of the History classroom, discussions are often provoked by contemporary and historical debates emerging out of current conflicts. History is not restricted to the past; it moves within and through us every day.
An understanding of History stretches far beyond that which the subject is often thought to be: an exercise in fact-regurgitation. At Chesterhouse, our pupils do not learn passively. Rather, inspired by different pedagogical approaches, they participate, debate and form sound, cogent and coherent arguments based on the evidence presented to them. Indeed, studying History is a complex and rewarding experience, and opens up doors to a variety of professions, including journalism, photography, law, media studies and education. Ultimately, it gives individuals a voice which resonates through the past into the present.
Ms. Leah Nasson
BA Hons Italian and History (UCT)
PGCE History and English (UCT)
MA Italian literature(UCT)
Winning 2011 Headmaster’s History Essay – Headmaster Essay Report 2011