This is an enquiry-based activity linked to the English Literature GCSE curriculum, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.
The students will meet at the Masonic Hall in the museum’s1900s Town. Here they will discover that there has been a death, overnight, of a pauper in The Town Street. Students will split into groups and interview six characters in turn; the shopkeeper in the Co-op, an employee in the chemist’s, the bank manager’s son in the bank, a solicitor, the maid in the music teacher’s house and a Mason. Each character will have a different point of view regarding the scenario and will quote parts of A Christmas Carol as they discuss what happened with the students. They will also offer 19th century texts regarding the workings of the workhouse which the students will need to read as they travel between the characters in order to make their arguments more persuasive.
Students must use all the arguments and persuasive skills in order to get the most donations from the characters, the amount they receive will collated at the end..
The activity aims to:
- Make students aware of the various attitudes that existed towards the poor at the time when A Christmas Carol was written.
- Encourage students to become confident in the reading of 19th century texts, they will read to gain meaning and use the information gleaned in their spoken engagement with the real live characters.
- Become more familiar with the themes explored in the opening chapters of A Christmas Carol and hear quotes from the book.
- Explore the effect of the Poor Laws on society, and in particular the Malthusian attitude, to the development of the workhouse.
Target Age: KS4 and upper KS3
Activity Cost: £50 (admission costs apply)
Duration: 1 hour
Group Size: 30
Season: Year round but most appropriate leading up to Christmas