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Show and Tell: A Day in the Life of a Coalminer (1910)
Introduction History Geography Music English  
image from A Day in the Life of a Coalminer (1910)

A Day in the Life of a Coalminer could be used in a GCSE module on resource depletion and would also work well as part of KS3 'Mining on the Internet' scheme of work.

On the most basic of levels, the film could be used as to kick-start a discussion about the impact of mining on local environments and communities. As students watch the film, ask them to note down what they learn about the mining techniques employed in the 1910s and generate ideas about the possible advantages and disadvantages of this type of underground mining. This might then be broadened out into an exercise comparing and contrasting the impact of surface mining and sub-surface mining.

Developing this further, ask students to investigate the legacy of the mine in this particular film using the internet. A Day in the Life of a Coalminer was made with the approval of the Wigan Iron and Coal company. What can students learn about mining in Wigan in the early twentieth century online and the impact of the mining industry on the local area? How does this help them understand the impact of mining on the UK as a whole?

If you want to place the film more at the centre of a lesson or series of lessons, why not encourage students to think about change and continuity in generating electricity across the twentieth centuries. Why not challenge students to write a letter to the eponymous miner in this film, explaining how the energy landscape has changed since 1910? While coal remains the most significant source for the world's electricity generation, the advent of renewable and nuclear energy sources has changed things dramatically. What areas will students choose to focus on: sustainability, worldwide changes in the reliance on coal, the energy situation in the UK?

If you are feeling a little braver, ask students to create their own instructional short film for the 'miner' explaining how the world has changed. There are plenty of suitable extracts in The Cutting Room, where students can edit together clips, stills and music as well as upload their own voiceover.

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