On Monday 1st July 2019 43 teachers from 39 secondary schools across the country joined us here at Warwick for our 2019 Classical Civilisation A-level Teachers Day. Designed to complement the OCR A-level curriculum, this day provided teachers with sessions on modules from the A-level Classical Civilisation curriculum led by our Warwick Classics academics. Our aim for these sessions was to provide a new perspective on each of these modules from experts in the field informed by recent scholarship, to give the teachers a different view of material already familiar to them from their own teaching.
In addition, subject leader for Classics at OCR Alex Orgee led a popular session answering questions on the OCR curriculum, and breakout sessions during the day also provided an experience of coin-handling, interactions with our replica Greek vases, and the chance to visit ancient Athens with our VR headsets.
Teacher Resources from this day, including videos of the sessions, are being created and will be posted on our Warwick Classics Network website soon.
We are indebted to The Classical Association whose generous award of £2000 to the Dept of Classics and Ancient History and the WCN for funding to cover travel bursaries for those attending made this day the great success that it was.
If you would like more information on The Classical Association and the great work it does in promoting Classics to the wider world, then follow this link to their website.
Part One: The World of the Hero
In the first session of the day, Dr David Fearn introduced our attendees (below left) to recent readings of Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, using these to orient the teachers towards important and interesting new developments in Homeric thinking. Throughout the talk, Dr Fearn took the opportunity to relate characterisation to the structure and purpose of epic form in a variety of ways. This talk was followed by a session on Teaching the Politics of Virgil's Aeneid (below right) led by Prof. Victoria Rimell, where Prof. Rimell identified useful questions for drawing out debate on the politics and reading of passages from the Aeneid.
OCR and Breakout Sessions
Our first session was followed by a Q&A with Alex Orgee (below left), subject leader for classics at OCR. Alex spoke about the OCR curriculum and fielded questions relating to the latest A-level examinations and the use of recent scholarship. During this session and throughout the day teachers were also able to experience breakout sessions, including one on Coin Handling with Dr Clare Rowan and her collection of ancient Greek and Roman coins (below right)
In addition, teachers were able to experience handling our replica Greek vases and to take a virtual tour of Ancient Athens with our ever-popular VR headsets (below). These headsets are a useful teaching tool and we have loaned them to local schools for use in pupil Induction Days and Open Days as well as for use in Classics lessons.
Part Two: Culture and the Arts
Parts Two and Three of the day consisted of parallel sessions of topics linked to Culture and the Arts, and Beliefs and Ideas respectively. For Culture and the Arts we held parallel sessions on Imperial Image, Greek Theatre, and Greek Art.
In a very popular Imperial Image session, Professor Alison Cooley (below left) led an engaging talk on 'Augustus in his own words - the Res Gestae Divi Augusti' discussing a topic for which her book is the A-level set text. This was followed by Dr Clare Rowan on 'The evidence of coins for Imperial Image' - a subject for which she also recently recorded one of our popular #AskAnAcademic videos.
In our Greek Theatre session, Dr Emmanuela Bakola (below right) gave a passionate introduction to 'Dionysus and Greek Theatre'. Teachers enjoyed this lecture by one of the driving forces behind our yearly Warwick Ancient Drama Festival.
In the session on Greek Art, which took place in our Antiquities Room, Prof. Zahra Newby and Dr Conor Trainor (Below centre) led a hands-on session with our Greek vases and replicas. Dr Trainor and Prof Newby explained how Pottery - as a common, everyday, and almost indestructible commodity - is one of the most important classes of artefacts for helping us to interpret many aspects of the ancient world, the aims of the session being to familiarise the teachers with the main archaeological/art historical uses of pottery; to familiarise them with the main approaches to archaeological pottery; and to provide an idea about how pottery is identified and interpreted.
Part Three: Beliefs and Ideas
Our final set of parallel sessions, under the heading Beliefs and Ideas, were on Greek Religion and Love and Relationships.
For Greek Religion, Prof. Michael Scott (below left) led an entertaining talk on various aspects of Greek Religion including: 'Belief in the Gods', with reference to Herodotus, Xenophon and Theophrastus, Dodona Tablets; 'Personal, Local and PanHellenic Religion' with reference to a Sacred Law from Cyrene RO, 2007, 97); and 'Personal experience of the Divine' through reference to the healing texts at Epidauros.
In the Love and Relationships session, Prof. James Davidson (below right) introduced the teachers to 'Sappho and Lesbian Women - Historical and Literary Contexts', and to 'Plato on Love and Same-sex relationships'. Following this entertaining overview, Prof Victoria Rimell led a very useful and engaging session on 'Teaching humour in Ovid Ars Amatoria 3'.
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