What the Dickens was life like in the Victorian cities?

This lesson makes extremely good use of a technique called creative tension. Pupils listen, with their eyes closed, to a spoken description which they then have to visualise in their heads. When they open their eyes they discuss what they saw in their mind’s eye. They are then shown an engraving from the time which paints a picture which is at once slightly different yet strangely similar. Pupils evaluate the picture by putting the artist in the hot seat.

Learning objectives

  • pupils are able to identify a range of features of a typical Victorian town
  • they are able to compare and contrast an extract from Dickens with a contemporary etching
  • some pupils are able to critically evaluate the painting as a piece of historical evidence.

Unusually this session starts by asking children to close their eyes. They are going to have a brief extract of a description written about a Victorian town. They have to create a mental image of the scene in their minds, a sort of personal cinema.

Step 1

Slowly and deliberately, read the extract from Hard Times which describesCoketown. It is a reasonably long extract, so it is worth practising beforehand, especially to get

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