What should we write on Robespierre’s plaque?

In his home town of Arras, the plaque commemorating his achievements has been vandalised and replaced so often that it is clear that people still feel strongly about him. Can pupils create a plaque of their own using just 100 words which would give a more rounded view of him, warts and all? They need to write to the authorities in Arras with their suggestions for improvement. Preparatory activities, involving the use of a wordprocessor if you can, make this both a feasible and a ‘real’ task. I am grateful to the history department at Fernhill school for taking the initial idea and refining it so effectively.

Learning objectives

  • to create a balanced view of Robespierre that takes account of popular hostility
  • to appreciate that the truth is seldom black and white and that summaries can distort
  •  they learn how to make tight summaries appropriate for the medium and likely to be accepted by polarised opinions.

Starter

As the pupils settle in their seats, project the image of the portrait of Robespierre on slide 2 of the PowerPoint and ask them to consider what adjectives best sum up the impression the artist has created of Robespierre’ s character.

Step 1

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