Resources for Teachers

Since the WordPress archives are far from the easiest thing to navigate and it can be difficult to find what you are looking for even though it is, I am putting together a couple of ‘index’ posts linking to things I’ve written on this site on a given topic.

This one is Resources for Teachers. I’ve been absolutely delighted to hear that some of the material I put up here has been useful for teachers in either designing lesson plans or even as readings or additional resources. So I thought I would gather here links to the posts that I have been told were useful by K-12 and post-secondary educators.

Pre-Modern Economies

Lonely Cities (I and II): A look at the human terrain – that is, the landscape created by human activity – formed by agriculture outside of large pre-modern cities, and a chance to talk about the sort of people – farmers, pastoralists, laborers – who made up most of the people in the past, but often don’t show up very much in traditional textbooks!

Ancient Societies

This. Isn’t. Sparta. (I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII): My longest series so far, this set of posts delivers what I view as the indictment against Sparta. The argument here is a bit one-sided and intentionally so; I aimed for this to offset a lot of the rose-tinted visions of Sparta that one sees in most high school and even college textbooks. This series attempts to deal with nearly all aspects of Spartan society: men and women, slave and free, high class and low class, civilian and military, government and economy, adult and child. Note: Part I, Spartan School and Part III, Spartan Women both come with content warnings, the former because it discusses the abuse of children and the latter for frank discussions of historical systems of violence against women.

Religion

Practical Polytheism (I, II, Ongoing): A discussion of the nuts-and-bolts of ancient polytheist practice, focused on practical knowledge, rather than moral belief. A good primer (I hope!) for students to understand how these religions viewed the world differently than we do and how that influenced their practice, hopefully to avoid the common student error of just assuming everyone in the past was an idiot.

Oaths! How Do They Work? A useful addition to the above, this looks at oaths and vows in both Christian and pagan practice in a bit more depth, discussing how such religious actions were taken very seriously by people in the past.

Class, Status and the Early Church. Written as a response to a particularly bald historical misstatement, this is a very brief round-up of the current scholarly consensus on the social make-up and growth of the Christian Church in its first four (or so) centuries.

Military History

The Siege of Gondor (I, II, III, IV, V, VI): This series aims to introduce a number of military/historical concepts in a fun, Lord of the Rings candy-coated package. It discusses the distinction between tactics, operations and strategy, presents some of the basic problems of logistics, introduces defense in depth, infantry cohesion, pre-modern siege and cavalry tactics, and most importantly the impact of morale on the battle.

The Preposterous Logistics of the Loot Train Battle and How Fast Do Armies Move? The second post is essentially a gloss on one element of the former, which discusses the logistics problems of armies in the age before railroads in greater depth, all in a Game of Thrones candy-coated package.

War Elephants! (I, II, III) A three-part discussion of war elephants and the role that they play both on the battlefield and off of it. Part I discusses the military advantages, Part II the liabilities and weaknesses, while Part III looks at the social role of elephants as signals of kingship and nobility in the societies that did make use of them.

Are you an educator (or a student)? Is there anything I’ve written here that you think ought to be on this list but isn’t? Is there something you’re dying for me to cover? Drop me a line on twitter @BretDevereaux or post down below in the comments!