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Biography: Norman Pratt


Norman Pratt
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I taught history in Essex Comprehensive schools for 31 years, for some of that time as Head of History. I read History at Trinity College Oxford, and was there when the President was assassinated. I thought they meant De Gaulle. I had the privilege of introducing the teaching of African history at Bishop’s Senior School, Mukono, Uganda, in 1966: previously they did British History. I worked in 2 London Advertising Agencies, mainly as a copywriter, from 1968 – 1971. I took early retirement from teaching 8 years ago and found myself writing about Michael Gove's attempts to take over and dictate the History curriculum in schools. Now that threat has been removed I am able to use my time more usefully writing materials for teaching about the British and India in the late 18th Century.

Edited by Norman Pratt
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  • 2 months later...
I took early retirement 2 years ago with the intention of writing textbooks on world history topics, beginning with the Incas, for Key Stage 3. Publishers not as yet being very encouraging, I am presently engaged in preparing free resources.

Please let me know if I can be of help in getting this material distributed.

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John, thank you very much for the offer.

I am in the process of producing some new materials, such as ‘how to make your own Inca quipu’. The quipu of course is the arrangement of knotted strings the Incas used to store information. I am producing a series of maps which set out the commonly accepted progression of the Inca conquests. I’m also beginning to adapt some double-page spreads, originally designed for my planned textbook, to be (fairly) standalone information sheets. They are very basic, but then as far as I know apart from Terry Deary’s ‘The Incredible Incas’ there is no school textbook. This is I think one of the main reasons why the topic has not yet ‘taken off.’ Heinemann had a stab at it by including it in one of their CD-Roms. I have seen odd bits of Incas in textbooks, clearly aimed at KS3. I get the feeling it’s edging towards being accepted as another World topic, to join the handful that exist already.

Actually there wasn’t any comprehensive book about the Incas – at least not one that linked the fairly well-known written sources with the many recent discoveries of archaeology - until the publication of ‘The Incas’ by Terence D’Altroy by Blackwell in 2002.

Sorry. Bit of a break there. I nearly missed Ben Fogle and his team trying to reach the lost city of the Incas! (BBC 2 6.30; and tomorrow, at the same time.) The Incas are increasingly a media topic. Last Thursday there was a brilliant account on BBC 2 of the Lambayeque Culture (one of the many groups the Incas took over) called ‘The Cursed Valley of the Pyramids’. A few years ago there were the frozen mummies: the Incas did have a thing about sacrificing maidens on mountaintops, and there is scope for a lesson here following the steps that the archaeologists took in making sense of this practice. Native American culture of South America has recently become very important politically. In some Andean countries this takes the form of an Inca cult.

Incas are an ideal topic for student Internet research. It is good for extended project work, or for a structured series of lessons. It is also suitable for many different approaches other than written work (eg the quipu-making referred to above.) Compared to some of the other World topics the content is very manageable. And using it to replace ‘The Black Peoples of the Americas’ Unit won’t stop a Department teaching Black History because a good deal of that material probably sits better within British History anyway.

If you ask Year 7’s what they enjoyed most about their KS2 History, my experience is that Ancient Civilizations score very high, including the Aztecs. Our Year 8’s loved doing Incas. My intention is to make the resources and some guidance notes available in a couple of months’ time.

However, I have little or no experience of how to do this.

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If you ask Year 7’s what they enjoyed most about their KS2 History, my experience is that Ancient Civilizations score very high, including the Aztecs. Our Year 8’s loved doing Incas. My intention is to make the resources and some guidance notes available in a couple of months’ time. However, I have little or no experience of how to do this.

The easiest way of doing this is by uploading the material on the Forum. However, this will not make you any money. To do that, you will need your own website. We have several members who will be willing to help you do this. The project can then be financed by advertising. It will probably take you several years before you go into profit.

The third option is to find a publisher for the book. It is virtually impossible to find a company willing to publish it like you want it (they will probably insist that it is rewritten to fit in with an existing series of books).

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