Leaping into the past with Ben Kane
While they lived thousands of years ago, there’s a lot to be learned from the tales of the Ancient Romans. And who better to tell them than author of 15 novels set in ancient Rome, Ben Kane?
By encouraging pupils to interact with the experts and artefacts behind the texts and sources that they spend endless class time studying, independent senior school Berkhamsted is committed to bringing history to life, allowing pupils to learn alongside peers in an interactive learning environment. To supplement pupils’ understanding of the ancient texts they study in class, Mr Allen (Head of Classics) arranged for Classics and Latin students in Year 10, and the entirety of Year 9, to hear Ben’s expertise on the fascinating period. “I hope that this session will build on your understanding of daily life in Rome”, Mr Allen told pupils, “Ben has written about and researched the Roman Empire for years!”
Ben’s first presentation to Year 10 was a humorous and interesting discussion of the practices, fashions, and daily life of the Romans. From the food they ate to the clothes they wore, Ben painted a picture of what it was like to live thousands of years ago.
“It was really surprising to see how Roman life was different to ours!” said one pupil after the talk.
While Ben emphasised the differences between daily life in Ancient Rome and modern-day Britain, he also explained how we are similar to this ancient group of people. From the ways Roman people expressed their love to their enjoyment of fine art, Ben helped pupils relate to the Romans on a more personal level.
“The way Ben drew comparisons between now and then helped me to understand what life was like for the Romans” said another pupil.
It was soon time for Ben to talk to Year 9s about Roman soldiers. Mr Allen hoped that the talk would give pupils a taste of what they could learn if they pursued Classics further in their school career. “Whether you’re already interested in the Romans, or you don’t know much about them, I’m sure hearing from Ben will spark your interest in the topic!” said Mr Allen. From what they wore to who they fought, Ben gave pupils an insight into the trials and tribulations of being a Roman soldier.
To truly transport pupils back to the days of Roman rule, Ben even invited an enthusiastic pupil up to the stage to try on a piece of clothing that imitated those worn by Roman soldiers. While it weighed a whopping 10kg and was not as comfortable as their trusty Berkhamsted uniform, the pupil wore it with pride and even learned how to pose as a real Roman soldier.
The afternoon was a fantastic opportunity for pupils to broaden their in-class understanding of the Roman Empire and daily life in Rome. A huge thanks to Mr Allen for organising the session, and to Ben for keeping pupils on the edge of their seats throughout these engaging talks!