Benin – KQ3 – What can we tell about Benin society at this time from the images and artefacts that have survived?

Using evidence to study Benin

This lesson revolves round four principal activities: Fastest Finger First; Mining for meaning, using an artist’s illustration; Call My Bluff which creatively uses images of mystery objects; and Curator’s dilemma. The emphasis is on looking at a range of evidence and drawing tentative conclusions from it.


By way of a more arresting start to the session, show pupils the image on slide 2 of the PowerPoint presentation. In pairs can they play Fastest Finger First? With a copy of the picture in front of them, pupils take it in turn to find something in the picture that they think tells us about 11th century Benin. They point at the relevant part of the image and then have to say simply what it is. This quick, ‘easy access’, task is designed to give lower-attaining pupils some confidence using the unfamiliar material. Ask for quick feedback, keeping the pace brisk and avoiding the temptation to dwell on misconceptions. Some ideas will be very rudimentary at this stage, but they will be refined as the lesson progresses. The more able should be encouraged to use more specialist language e.g. I think that man is the Oba,

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