Here are some ideas for enquiry questions that students can follow when exploring the British Library’s Magna Carta exhibition. We followed the tour backwards, which worked very well. The staff were very accommodating about this. Students watched film clips, researched online and used the exhibition to reflect on the questions. They then used the Book Creator app to present their work.
Here are the enquiries:
Why did British rulers get stuck with Magna Carta?
You need to break this question down into small parts. In the exhibition you will be able to learn that King John did not like Magna Carta, he tried to get out of what had been agreed just 3 months afterwards. However, Magna Carta stayed. You need to find out why and it’s worth picking up on these ideas:
– lots of copies were made and distributed and kept by the church
– King John died in 1216 and his young sone Henry became king
– Henry III was quite a weak king
– the next king, Edward I, was stronger and used Magna Carta to help him rule the barons
– Magna Carta was ‘rediscovered’ in the 17th century and used against the king
– the US colonists used Magna Carta in their fight for independence
– Magna Carta is still used to challenge British rulers today
How have people used Magna Carta since 1215?
Thinking about this big question:
Is the way people have used Magna Carta as an idea more important than Magna Carta itself? You need to find out how it has been used by:
– British rulers
– people wanting to challenge British rulers
– people wanting to challenge injustice across the world
It has been used in medieval times, and from the 17th-21st centuries.
Can you present the differences and similarities in the way Magna Carta has been used?
What are the interesting stories that help us to answer this question?
Maybe you could interview people about what Magna Carta means to them today in order to bring the question right up today – is it still an inspiration? Have people even heard of it?
Why did Magna Carta go global?
In the exhibition you will need to find out how the Magna Carta survived and became a worldwide inspiration. Factors to look out for include the spread of British power, the influence of the USA. When and how did these two factors cause Magna Carta to go global? Perhaps when interviewing people this afternoon you could try to target people who are not British and see if they have heard of Magna Carta – just how global is it today?
Why all the fuss about Magna Carta?
This question can be explored from a variety of directions and you should try to do that. Why was there a fuss when it was first born in 1215 and in the following century? Why did it get rediscovered in the 17th century? How has the USA played a part in keeping Magna Carta alive? What has Magna Carta inspired? How does Shami Chakrabarti rate Magna Carta? What sort of fuss is being made this year? Does it justify the fuss? What questions do you want to ask people to illuminate this question?