National Library of Scotland's 'Heroes' to be introduced to Scottish schools

The National Library of Scotland has launched a fantastic new online educational resource, which will focus on some of the self-help heroes identified in the famous Victorian book 'Self-Help' by Samuel Smiles.

'Self-Help' promoted the inspirational characteristics which were valued by Smiles, including hard work, perseverance and determination to overcome adversity and obstacles, using the stories of real people. Published in 1859 by John Murray, it became somewhat of a Victorian blockbuster, selling 20,000 copies within the first year. By the time of his death in 1904 the book had sold over a quarter of a million copies.

This new online education resource has been developed by the National Library of Scotland with images from its collection and those of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery and the National Maritime Museum. It celebrates six of Smiles? 'heroes' through a series of interactive comic-book style screens that illustrate their stories in a vivid and entertaining way.

The heroes include: Thomas Carlyle, a Scottish pioneer medical missionary; Ralph Abercromby, the British lieutenant general who was noted for his services during the Napoleonic Wars; David Livingstone, a Scottish missionary and explorer; James Watt, a Scottish inventor and mechanical engineer and Florence Nightingale, made famous by her pioneering work in nursing.

These specially commissioned animated interactives complement a series of drama lesson plans produced by Scottish Youth Theatre. The lesson plans have been designed to support the teaching of history and social wellbeing through the medium of drama in primary and secondary schools.

The downloadable lesson plans encourage young people to think about the qualities and characteristics Smiles most admired and discuss the relevance of these characters in today?s society. They also encourage young learners to creatively explore ideas, concepts, themes and issues around the ideas of heroes, citizenship and aspirations.

Emma Faragher, Education and Outreach Officer at the National Library of Scotland, said: 'Many young people define their heroes as being glamorous or wealthy celebrities. However Smiles believed that heroes did not all need to be famous - and that a role model is someone who works hard for what they believe in, which I think is fantastic advice, especially in today's celebrity focussed world.

'I'm sure that the easy-to-navigate website with quirky artwork will be a hit with children of all ages, and schools throughout the country will use it in lessons to spark interesting and topical debate. It discusses who the Victorians looked up to and why they were regarded as 'heroes' of this time - their stories are both impressive and inspiring.'

Visit the 'Heroes' website


National Library of Scotland
George IV Bridge

Tel: 0131 623 3700

7 June 2010

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