How to Get Your Students to Love the Tudor Monarchy
The story of the Tudors has it all --- love, betrayal, war, death, humor, and of lots juicy details. In other words, if presented correctly, this subject can be less like a history lesson and more like, say, a Rikki Lake Telecast. Now I know that comparison probably turns a lot of historians (and educators!) stomachs, but this material can be presented in such a way as to interest students without selling out completely to its sensationalist tendencies. Trust me, I'm a psych major.
The rest of this page is just a few tips on how to present the material to your class. Modify my ideas to suit your special needs! Be sure to e-mail me with any ideas, tips, suggestions, or just drop a line and tell me what YOU did to make history come alive for your students.
"Help, Oprah! My Dad's On Wife Number Six!"
Have your students research the Tudor of their choice and then have an Oprah day. Volunteers get to act out an entire talk show about the Tudors. Encouage your students to really get into the emotions that the people must have felt. How would Henry VIII explain himself today? Would Katherine of Aragon be a bitter old woman or a raging fireball? Was Anne Boylen the shrew everyone said she was or just a woman swept along by the power of a tyrant? And what would Henry VII say about this, anyway?
Your students can really get to know these figures if they keep a week-long journal as if they were that person. Assign one student the role of Mary I during the time her father was divorcing her mother. Have another student write out the thoughts of Elizabeth York on her marriage to Henry VII. Or let another student put words into the mouth of Anne Cleves when she is divorced by Henry VIII -- is she embarrassed or relieved?
Art at the Heart
Your students can learn more about the Tudors by drawing pictures of them. Encourage your students to go to the library and research the look and dress of the time. Or have your students up date their looks for the 90's.
Must See Monarchy
If the the Tudor story was the basis of a television story today, what would it be? Tudorplace starring Heather Locklear as Anne Boylen, or Suddenly Tudor, a dippy look at life in the 1500's? Let your students decide: the point is getting them interested in the story. (I personally prefer Days of My Wives, a soap opera on Henry VIII!)