First of all, it’s hard to believe that our first official socials unit is coming to close…
I felt like I learned a lot about the English civil war during this unit. Our group’s specific category was the Civil War part 2, but even more specifically King Charles’ trial which I believe is really a significant part of history that is able to stand on its own. I found that a big part of this trial was the different perspectives and roles taken into consideration. In this courtroom, not all cavaliers were pleading King Charles not guilty and not all roundheads were pleading him guilty. Then of course there were the Scots confusing everyone because they were truly divided in their beliefs. I believe that this division in roles really shaped the path of civil war part 2 because I feel that this is where true loyalties and relationships were discovered and announced.
First of all to be clear, we held a mock trial of King Charles’ death that involved the participation of the entire class. My group consisted of Angela, Tiffany, Owen, and myself. We each took on specific roles as the Judge, King Charles, the leader of the prosecution team and the leader of the defense team. We then divided up the class into four sections consisting of the prosecution team, the defense team, the witnesses, and the jury and from those four groups they also held roles as real people in the English civil war. So you were not only a member of the court, you were also an active or influencing member of the civil war. I felt that in general we had pretty good participation from the class which led to a good understanding of the concept we were trying to get across. As a group we were trying to give the class a feel of what it would be like to take part in an event that really happened in 1649 and I feel that it really hit off well with this class. If we were ever to do this again, I would definitely make sure that the rules and procedure were a bit more precise and clear. It was our first time as well so we ended up doing some work as the trial was going on just to make sure things ran smoothly, so it would be best if we could smooth out these bumps in the future. One thing in particular that I was proud of for this trial was the vibe in the room. At first it was quite tense, but you could gradually feel the room easing up and this was really cool to experience as someone leading a project.
Now about the class in general. For ways we could improve future unit/course planning, I think the number one improvement we should make is being more decisive and precise. One thing I noticed about this group is that we sometimes backtracked, going back on ideas that were already finalized. If we just keep moving forward, I think this will help our planning a lot. Also I think it will greatly help if were are more precise about what we want to say and what we think should be finalized with the class. With these two improvements, I think class planning should go a bit smoother.
On to individual learning. Other than my own section, the presentation that caught my interest was the reign of James 1/King Charles 1 prezi and rap battle. First of all, I will remember the humorous yet informative rap battle (with subtitles!) along with the clear and concise prezi. One thing that made it really easy to remember among the other project was the smooth transition of the prezi, making it easy to follow along and take notes. This presentation confirmed some of my assumptions on this section such as how way back in history, the fight for religion was a lot more prevalent than in today’s society where we have come to accept many different things. They also brought forth some very interesting points, like the fact that James was crowned as King James 6 of Scotland when he was 13 months old. Knowing that it was possible for kings to be crowned at such young ages was certainly not a part of my prior knowledge. Some questions/issues that this entire English Civil War unit raised for me was: What is the meaning of being for the people and especially since I was in the mock trial group, what is the difference between justifying the execution of royalty compared to any other citizen.
As an individual, other than actively taking part in the activities given by the other group, I also kept myself engaged in this unit by taking notes throughout all presentations (except for mine). These notes helped organize my thoughts, especially the order of events because the presentations were not always in chronological order.
If I were to take a similar unit to this in the future, I would try to balance class involvement better. Some projects had a little too much class involvement that it lost the interest of a few and some could have used more class involvement to provoke discussion and to reinforce knowledge. I think that we can definitely improve by finding a better balance. I really liked how we each took a section of the unit, explored that in depth, then shared that knowledge. I think that would work well for future units.
To finally tackle the BIG QUESTION: Who ought we ‘cheer’ for in studying the English Civil War?
I don’t believe that there is one specific answer to this question because it really depends on what social class you were, what religion you believed in, and whereabouts England you lived. If you were a middle class citizen you were more likely to side with Cromwell and the same if you were a puritan, but if you were a part of the royalty or if you were Protestant you would more likely be supportive of King Charles. Even though there were the common dividers there were some exceptions as proven in the Mock trial that was held. Personally, if I was a part of the English Civil War I would support Oliver Cromwell. I would rather take the risk of improving England than relying on a King that really wasn’t so reliable. As we see in the Civil War Part 2, Cromwell may have not been the greatest guy, but I feel that the roundheads are worth cheering for, just because they had the chance to bring about a great change.