One of the hardest elements of teaching history, Classics, or ancient languages can be getting a class to really connect with the subject matter. Some students struggle with making the connection between their own lives and those of people who have been dead for thousands of years, and as a result fail to engage properly with these fascinating subjects.
One of the ways to alter this mindset is to take your pupils to the historic towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum so that they can see for themselves how ‘normal’ and ‘like them’ these ancient people really were.
The Real Life Drama of Pompeii
While students may get excited about the drama and horror of the eruption of Vesuvius, actually what many young people find most haunting about visiting Pompeii is the insight it gives into day-to-day life in 79 AD. It is the trivial, almost mundane, details that become the most fascinating for students visiting Pompeii, and the neighbouring town of Herculaneum. Items like beds, food, and bowls remain as they would have been at the moment the volcano erupted and students are able to see these ancient civilisations as similar to their own.
The plaster casts of the bodies found at the site are a brutal reminder of how suddenly life in the city was ended; they tend to have a profound effect on young minds. An absorbing insight into Roman culture is given by the beautiful frescos perfectly preserved within the villas of these towns. Art students and historians alike will marvel at the scenes of life in the first century.
On the tours we organise as part of your school trip, you and your students will be taken around these ancient sites by expert guides who will be able to answer all your class’s questions. As well as exploring Pompeii and Herculaneum, your group will get to see the towering form of Vesuvius itself so that they can imagine the moment when the volcano began to show signs of instability and eruption.
Naples and Beyond
Of course, this is more than just a historic school trip. Those teaching ancient languages will be able to highlight how Latin has developed into modern Italian as they explore the bustling modern city of Naples. The Bay of Naples is a fascinating part of Italy in its own right, so you and your group may well choose to spend a day or two exploring the bay and learning more about modern life in Italy.
Links to Modern Curricula
Whether you are teaching Ancient History, Latin, Italian, Classics, or Art History, this trip to Naples and Pompeii can be tailored to tie in to your curriculum. The purpose behind the school trip is the same, no matter what the discipline: to bring your teaching off the page and into the sensory world so that it becomes more real, and more exciting, for each of your students.
John Gardiner is the Managing Director of The School Travel Company, a tour operator specialising in school trip itineraries for school and youth groups to the UK, Europe and beyond. As a father and avid traveller, John is very passionate about providing students with valuable and engaging learning experiences outside of the classroom. By sharing his expert advice with teachers, he allows them to inspire their students and bring their studies to life.