Photo by Serge Le Strat on Unsplash / Manipulated by Michael Simms
Michael is a qualified teacher (BA Hons, German, PGCE, M.A. in History in Education, all from the University of London). He taught in maintained and private schools for many years, in both mainstream and special settings, and saw extensive service as Head and Deputy Head, and as an educational consultant in a Virtual School for Children in Care, before concentrating on writing. He has always used group problem-solving, role-play and drama in the classroom whenever possible, as well as directing many major school plays, including Time Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat", Peter Shaffer's 'The Royal Hunt of The Sun' and Alan Parker's 'Bugsy Malone'. The picture below shows a group of Key Stage 3 pupils in a London prep school collaborating on a practical British car industry location exercise in one of Michael's Geography lessons.
One day Michael found out that in 1940, on his birthday, 28 May, after a duel between Winston Churchill and Lord Halifax, the War Cabinet decided to shelve any discussions about long-term policy until it was known whether Great Britain could beat off a German invasion. It was the spur to try his hand at writing plays.
Michael wants to show that what happened in the past was not inevitable, however much books and films tend to give that impression. Because history is written by the victors and is manipulated to serve the interests of politicians, national myths, entertainment moguls and others, many important players are airbrushed out and others unfairly condemned out of hand as later generations remain unaware that they might have had limited choices for action, as well as being constrained by contemporary public opinion and mores.
Some of the latter were convinced they were in the right. For example, Neville Chamberlain believed that history would look kindly on him. Despite revisionist historians trying to rehabilitate his reputation, any politician seen waving 'a piece of paper' would invite derision even 82 years after The Munich Agreement. Meanwhile, Lord Halifax is popularly remembered as the man who would have 'given in to Hitler' if he, and not Winston Churchill, had become Prime Minister in 1940. The truth is more nuanced and reflects the terrible danger in which Great Britain found herself after the fall of France.
The word 'education' has two Latin roots: 'educare', meaning 'to train or to mould', and 'educere', meaning 'to draw or lead out'. Michael wants to bring history alive in an enjoyable and accessible way, and hopes that all those who produce and interact with them will look at the past differently.
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