RSA Enlightenment History Day

A fantastic day was enjoyed by History students from both RSA academies, Arrow Vale and The RSA Academy when they visited RSA House on 21st November for an interactive day to learn about the Enlightenment period.

With the RSA’s own rich history during the Enlightenment period, it was the perfect opportunity for pupils to explore the archive and quiz our resident Historian. This was a wonderful experience as part of the co-design KASE curriculum, providing the students with an opportunity to broaden their horizons. Mr Tim Bonner, Central RSA Academies History Lead, writes this guest blog on the day:

The RSA House is an inspiring building, and there was a real buzz of excitement inside as RSA Fellows and professionals were discussing new ideas in an engaging environment. This was a positive experience to learn more about the real-life impact that is made by the sponsor of our academies. Students were also able to see how learning can be a lifelong activity that is exciting and draws a variety of different people together.

Anton, the historian in residence at RSA House, led an interactive workshop on the history of the RSA, as well as the establishment of RSA House. It was interesting to learn that the RSA was founded during the Enlightenment, at a time of new beginnings and discoveries. The RSA was also ahead of its time in welcoming female members too.

Over 200 years ago, new inventions and possibilities would be discussed and debated over a cup of coffee, and we saw that was still the case today! Students put themselves in the positions of the early members of the RSA by debating new inventions to promote as a society. The historical content learnt and transferable skills developed are directly relevant to students’ studies in the Year 9 History co-design curriculum, and Anton usefully provided details on the benefits of studying History, with links to wider life and an array of different careers.

Students then enjoyed listening to a discussion on ‘How Big Tech has Betrayed Us’ by Rana Foroohar, a leading business analyst and economic journalist has researched this topic for decades. Rana is an associate editor of the Financial Times newspaper and she is also the global economic analyst for American news network CNN. The RSA Event explained how worldwide technology companies such as Apple,Google, and Amazon are controlling our data and using that information to make a profit worth billions. These companies are not fair and
transparent in the way that information is collected from our smartphones even at times when we’re not actively using them. Rana was an engaging speaker, and the students from the RSA academies even received a special welcome from Rana and an invitation to ask questions. This was in front of an audience of top academics, and even representatives from the government! The talk led to a thought-provoking conversation on a topic that will continue well into the future.

The final instalment of this exciting day was a visit to the archives at RSA House. This was a rare opportunity for the students to physically hold historical artefacts that have been part of the history of the RSA, including genuine gold medals that were given as prizes to people who demonstrated excellence in a range of different ways, such as the creation of new inventions.