Why were so many witches hanged in the 16th and 17th centuries?

Can we beat the textbook explanation?

The inspiration for this lesson came from the talented history department at Court Moor school and in particular the outstanding history subject leader Claire Conley-Harper. Originally it was a short thinking skills activity on raising historical questions which then grew into a more systematic enquiry in which pupils followed up the questions they originally posed and tried to draw independent conclusions from both the data and the background contextual information.  The lesson was planned for able pupils in Year 8 and will clearly need modifying if you were  to use it with a full ability class. You will find enough material here for more than one lesson, but the single-lesson structure has been retained to give direction to the enquiry.

NB There is now a great short enquiry-led video which answers this question produced by www.historybombs.com which you could use too. For example,  by showing the 7 min film at the end of the enquiry and ask the pupils to evaluate how well the film answered  the  enquiry question.

Learning objectives

  • pupils analyse data in graph form and raise questions based on trends and patterns observed
  • they work in groups to follow up lines
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