28th March 2003 at 00:00
You might find it hard to believe that history teachers at KS2 and KS3 can create an entire year's history course around the theme of the humble cup of tea, but I have seen it done at KS2 and KS3. At KS2 the search for new commodities could be studied as part of work on explorers. More excitingly, KS2 pupils could look at the issue of alcohol, health and temperance in the Victorian period. There is some evidence that improving health and longevity was related to working people drinking more tea and less alcohol.

Pupils might produce posters or speeches for the temperance campaigns of the time. At KS3 pupils might look at the links between tea and the British empire. Certainly the abolitionist connection might be explored in a similar way, since tea was a key factor in the link between sugar and slavery. Alternatively, the role of tea in the relationship between Britain and India has great possibilities. Local archives may well contain papers of plantation owners or even the memories of workers in the tea industry for the 19th century. Finally, at KS2 or KS3 students might be able to locate histories and records of local shops and see how important tea was in their trade. For a national perspective, the Sainsbury's museum might be of interest www.j-sainsbury.co.ukmuseummuseum.htm

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