History as Combustive Drama
“You could hear the shrieks of women … and the shouting of men; some were calling their parents, others their children or their wives…”
Visiting Pompeii and Herculaneum with your class is the perfect way to get them not only to understand Pliny the Younger’s words, but to feel them.
In our experience, that difference between understanding and feeling can be the seed that will blossom into a lifelong love for historical and cultural studies. Teachers who take their students to Naples have the chance to plant that seed in an immensely fertile context.
Bringing the Past to Life
As a teacher of Classics you’ll no doubt be aware that most children’s attention is captivated by the past when they are able to relate to historical figures as people just like them. Cultivating that sense of empathy is one of the best methods of igniting a passion for this discipline.
Probably the most potent experience that school trips to Pompeii and Herculaneum can offer is that unique opportunity to see a moment of Roman life frozen for eternity. As students wander among the preserved remains of taverns, baths, shops, and ordinary houses where Romans still stand fossilised in the middle of their daily acts, they come face to face with the reality that history is the story of people just like them.
As the historian Dexter Hoyos highlights: