Friday, 10 March 2017

A curriculum artefact: Ewen and the Gold

For all the gold Ewen Gillies ever found

Could not buy him peace or freedom

From the memory of the sound

Of the waves on St. Kilda's rocky shore

Inspired by the work of David Lambert, and the GeoCapabilities project that I've been working on for part of the last couple of years.
I remember hearing this song many times over the years, including live when seeing Dick Gaughan perform live, particularly at the Rockingham Arms folk club in Wentworth, near Rotherham, but also in various pubs in Sheffield.
The song is about Ewen Gillies, who left his home island of St. Kilda. 

St. Kilda is a place where in the history of the island is very much tied to the families that lived there.
Only five surnames have been used by families living on the islands.
Ferguson, Gillies, Mackinnon, MacQueen and MacDonald

There are many stories told about the families and how they survived on these remote islands, which lie far out to the west of the Hebrides. The islands are a Nature Reserve, and also have other protection, including World Heritage status. It's a place that I've longed to visit for decades, and probably never will now.
The artefact is a song, which is called 'Ewen and the Gold' and was written by Brian McNeill

The lyrics and details are here.

Listen on YouTube too...



Lyrics: copyright Bryan McNeill

A story of the evacuation of St. Kilda featuring Norman Gillies, presumably a relation of Ewen.
Download the lyrics, and play the song, and annotate with the story of Ewen, and also the

Coincidentally, one of the last news stories I read in 2016 was the discovery of a new Census document, which put the details of the families back earlier than was previously known about. Even back then, there were the same families that lived on the island.

I've also seen St. Kilda used as an example of a remote place for the new Changing Places unit for 'A' level Geography.

It's worth reminding yourself of what we mean by a curriculum artefact. It's something which is a little more involved than a classroom resource, and which the teacher works with to bring out its relevance. It's often an authentic, actual physical item which students might be able to touch, or taste. Christine Counsell refers to such elements as part of our "curriculum repetoire".

In my early years of teaching, I used to teach about coal mining, and many of the students in Norfolk had never seen coal, so I brought some lumps and talked about the work of my maternal grandfather, who was a pit deputy, and how many of the friends in my form group at school went down the pit when they left school.
I also had the Silverwood Colliery token that I blogged about here.

What's the last curriculum artefact that you integrated successfully into your teaching?

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