Tuesday, 5 August 2014

An Observation about Teaching History

I was just reading the fabulous Jo Beverley’s blog on Word Wenches about does the word ‘Historical’ put people off reading them? I found this article really interesting... sad, but interesting. What do you think?
Here’s the original article.
One of the comments suggested that this could be partly due to how history has been taught in schools.
I can only comment on how I was taught (and that was a million years ago). My head and chalkboard was filled with boring dates and shadowy people. I wanted to say ‘I imagined them’ but I couldn’t and that was the problem.
History was something that happened ‘back then’... in a time when people weren’t so civilized (as if we are now) or generally not so clever (an idea bandied about by 19th century scholars. Oh, there were a few exceptions but really no one could ever be as clever as them).
Now, I have always loved history, especially the medieval kind but even my resolve was pushed. One teacher (who was a lovely woman but...) would barely speak to us. She would divide the chalk board in half and begin writing the entire lesson – 50 minutes of ceaseless writing. Oh, and once she got to the end of the board, she would rub it off and then keep writing.
Which meant you had to be really quick to get all the information copied down.
Am I so old that there weren’t photocopiers in my school, I hear you ask. No, there were photocopiers... she just chose not to use them.
Go on... ask me how much I remember about the Rum Rebellion.
I do however have sick skills when it comes to taking notes.
So when I was taught History at high school, I was given dates, names and events but told nothing of the human condition. And that’s the secret to really ‘getting’ history. I found this out by myself with no help from the history faculty.
History is about love, hate, greed, power, lust, vengeance, blood, intelligence, despair, Inspiration and determination.
It’s all about why someone did something not the actual date on which it was done.
That’s where the real story is.
So as an author of historical romance, I hope that you will look past the words ‘Historical’ and give my medieval romances a go. J
Nicóle  xx


Seizing Heaven


Can the Reynard family betrothal ring really choose his true bride? Lord Savaric Reynard is about to find out.


Lord Savaric Reynard is intent on marrying the widow of Blackstone Manor, that is, until fate and the Reynard betrothal ring get in the way. On his way to meet the widow, Savaric is waylaid by Rosamund, a travelling artist.

He doesn’t believe in magic or the old family legend that the Reynard betrothal ring has the power to choose the right and true bride. Savaric soon discovers he can try and run from Fate, but one way or another it just might catch up with him.


Amazon link - http://goo.gl/brQEB6




The girl straightened and her eyes narrowed when she addressed him. “Sir, I do not want your coin.”

“Then what do you want? Come, you came to Foxwoods with a purpose.”

“I want nothing from you, Lord Reynard. I was honour bound to return the ring and I need no money for that.” Her voice was even but he saw a spark of indignation spark in her eyes.

“And what do you know of honour?” The words slipped out of Savaric’s mouth before he could stop them.

“Savaric!” Aunt Amice gasped.

“More than you, I wager,” Rosamund said as her hands fisted by her sides. “I have returned your possession and yet you choose to insult me. You may be a fine lord, but I have found better manners and more kindness from the woodcutter I passed on the road.”

She stepped away from the hearth and dropped into curtsy before Amice. “May God grant you blessings, Lady. I thank you for your sweet words but I should leave. ‘Tis better that way.”

“Nay, I will not have it. I will not allow you to go back into the tempest. I insist that you accept our hospitality. You will have dry clothes, a warm bed and food. We are in your debt, child and once Savaric recovers his manners he will be in agreement.” Aunt Amice stood up and took the girl’s hand. “Now, I shall not hear another word about it.”

Savaric saw the hurt in Rosamund’s eyes and another wisp of guilt fanned over him. She made him react and it confused him beyond reason.

 “Forgive my words. My Aunt is correct, Rosamund. You are welcome and safe a Foxwoods,” he said before he turned on his heels and strode to the door. He would avoid the girl as best he could. In the morning she would leave and everything would fall back into place.




  1. I agree Nicole. I love history - always have but that is probably more as a result of being exposed to wonderful Hollywood costume dramas and girl's own adventure novels featuring smugglers that I always ended up as a gift from my grandparents.

    I was talking to the son of a friend of mine (he's 15) about my book and telling him some of the interesting historical tidbits I had found and how I had used them

    He stood there open mouthed and said, 'why aren't we ever taught history like that?'

    I think part of the answer is that we devalue our past - it's old fashioned, it's irrelevant, it's unrelatable. All of which is untrue.

    If we can make people realise that whether they lived 20 years ago, 200 years ago or 2000 years ago, people had the same emotions and reactions we do today.

    This is where historical novels are so important - they can bring a period of history to life in vivid detail. Perhaps we can start kids off with those historical adventure stories.

    1. Thanks so much, Elizabeth. You're right, you have to try and spark the interest. Once that spark is there, history becomes not only fascinating but addictive. :D

  2. Absolutely! My goddaughter adores history. I suspect she knows more about the first and second world wars than her teacher.