KS3:5 How should Thomas Clarkson be remembered?

Enquiry question

1. What made Thomas Clarkson so angry?

Pupils’ Challenge
Thomas Clarkson was a quiet, hardworking student from Cambridge University. In 1785 he entered an essay writing competition that changed his life. Can you work out what made him so upset and angry?

Activities

Supplement resources given in (Teacher’s Guide 1.1) with relevant images from useful websites. See resource Useful websites.

Starter: Clarkson Picture Puzzle
Use a picture puzzle (Resource 1.2), together with other visual and verbal clues, to briefly introduce Thomas Clarkson, relevant local history, his essay on slavery and to guess what made him so angry.

Main task: What was the Transatlantic Slave Trade?

Step 1: Overview
Use stimulus material from a variety of websites, together with (Teacher’s Guide 1.1), to give a brief overview of the triangular trade. Bring this to life by using the classroom as a ‘living map’ of the North Atlantic coast line (Resource 1.4), exploring the capture, exchange, transportation and sale of enslaved Africans using role play and objects (such as cloth, toy guns, beads, manufactured goods, sugar, coffee, tobacco).

Step 2: Dig deeper
Pupils could do this activity in role as Thomas Clarkson, a university student researching his essay ‘On the Slavery and Commerce of the Human Species, particularly the African’.

Use the following questions to focus group research, feeding in information as necessary using (Teacher’s Guide 1.1):

(1) What was Africa like before the transatlantic slave trade was established?

(2) How did the arrival of European traders change Africa?

(3) Who benefited from the slave trade?

(4) Why did so many British people support the slave trade?

Ask pupils what they think was the main reason why people in Britain supported slavery. Ask them to place the following three factors in order of importance and explain their answer: Greed, Ignorance, Racism.

Plenary: Why was Thomas Clarkson so angry?
Pupils summarise why Clarkson became so upset/angry because of his research.

Outcomes

  • Pupils engage with the topic of slavery through:
    (a) powerful and puzzling initial stimulus material
    (b) looking through the ‘eyes’ of a (local) individual.

  • Pupils learn a broad contextual/chronological
    framework for studying the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

  • Misconceptions about African history are challenged

Resources

Useful websites

List of web-links to useful websites

Teacher’s Guide 1.1

Resource 1.2

Picture puzzle

Resource 1.3

Music that recalls the history of slavery

Objects:

Sugar, cigarettes, cotton cloth/wool, sea shells (if possible cowrie shells), British coins.

For an interactive map
of the Triangular Trade;

www.nmm.ac.uk/freedom/viewTheme.cfm/
theme/triangular

Resource 1.4

Plan for using the classroom as a ‘living
map’ of the Triangular Trade