History's HEROES?

What is a hero? section

What Circumstances Make Heroes?

Heroes come in many different shapes and sizes - but are there certain circumstances which bring heroes to the fore? Some of the heroes listed in this website were ordinary people, living ordinary lives - until suddenly they found themselves in circumstances which led them to act heroically (Edith Cavell, Irena Sendlerowa).

Others of the heroes in the site were in important positions within society. Some were royalty (Aethelflaed, Boudica); some were in positions of great responsibility, such as military leadership (Horatio Nelson, Oliver Cromwell) or politics (Oliver Cromwell, Thomas Buxton). Unlike most others who have filled such high positions down the centuries, circumstances arose which, they felt, called on them to place themselves, body and soul, at the service of a great cause.

What are the circumstances which make people, high and low, devote themselves to the cause of others? Is there a simple explanation?

Many of our heroes lived in time of war, when the survival of our very nation was in the balance. Such times tend to make choices very stark - you are either prepared to sacrifice your life for your country, or you are not. However, others of our heroes did not live in wartime - or, at least, not when the country was under grave threat of being invaded. Even so, due to some circumstance or other, they came to feel that they must make hard sacrifices for the sake of others.

What circumstances do make heroes? What is it about certain situations which make people do great things in the cause of others, when otherwise they would have continued to live their normal lives? This activity attempts to make the point that heroes aren't just needed in times of emergency; they are needed so long as there are people (or indeed animals!) who need help.

About the activity 

Activity 1A:

In the worksheet below there are two lists.

  • List A contains a outline description of different kinds of people.
  • List B contains outline descriptions of different kinds of historical periods.

See 'People and Periods Worksheet' in attachments

You decide which kinds of people would act heroically in the different periods, and which would not. Some people might end up with more than one period, and some periods might end up with more than one person.

Please remember that this is not meant to be accurate, and there are no "right" answers - the idea is to get you thinking!

When you've done the activity, think about the following questions:

  • Are there some periods which appear more than others?
  • From the list above, what sort of period do we live in today?
  • Do we need heroes today, or not?

Activity 1B:

There are two lists.

  • List A contains the names of the heroes whose entries are in the section, Heroes?
  • List B contains outline descriptions of different kinds of historical periods.

See 'Heroes and Periods Worksheet' in attachments

You decide which of our heroes would act heroically in the different periods, and which would not. Some of the heroes might end up with more than one period, and some periods might end up with more than one hero.

Again, there are no "right" answers - but be prepared to give reasons for your choices.

  • Are there some periods which appear more than others? Why might this be?
  • Did any of our heroes live in a period which is NOT described in the periods listed here?
  • Which heroes, if any, would be useful today, do you think? How, and where, might they be helpful?

Might YOU be called on to be a hero?   

What could you do if you saw:

  • Another pupil being bullied in your school?
  • Smoke coming from the windows of a house you were passing?
  • A cyclist being knocked over by a car?
  • A small animal being mistreated?
  • A disabled person being teased?
  • A TV programme showing starving children needing money?

Attachments

application/pdf File description: People and Periods Worksheet
Filename: People_and_Periods_Worksheet.pdf


application/pdf File description: Heroes and Periods Worksheet
Filename: Heroes_and_Periods_Worksheet2.pdf



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